FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Friday is Arkansas’ last chance. Missouri is the final game of the season. Friday is Arkansas’ best chance. Missouri isn’t actually as good as Arkansas, on paper. Friday is Arkansas’ last best chance. Missouri embarrassed Arkansas last year and now the Razorbacks want to do the same.
In what many believe is Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s final game in charge, his team is tasked with stopping the suddenly red-hot Tigers. His defense, especially, will be tested. Mizzou is the top team in the SEC in total offense and 11th in the country.
Senior cornerback Henre’ Toliver was in Bielema’s second full recruiting class. He’s been a starter on Bielema’s defenses all four years. He knows what’s at stake Friday and he remembers well what occurred last year.
“We’ve put it all in the locker room, all in TV, seeing those guys run over there and get that trophy, yeah, it’s been a big deal,” Toliver said.
The trophy he references is the Battle Line Rivalry trophy. Arkansas won the first trophy game in 2015. Mizzou won last year. Both times the Razorbacks were the favorite. This year, Missouri is.
A game that was supposed to be Arkansas’ easiest, or second-easiest at worst, SEC game in the preseason has turned into Tigers -11. Instead of Missouri being the worst team in the SEC, like many predicted, that distinction may belong to the Razorbacks. If they lose, the Hogs will have a better in-league record than just one team in the league: whichever teams loses this weekend between Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
None of the six players who were made available Tuesday night said anything along the lines of winning one for the coaching staff. They have been trained well to not let such secrets out. However, they did talk about winning one for themselves. No one on the roster anticipated this kind of season and it would be personally devastating to end on yet another sour note.
“Get a ‘dub.’ Get a dub for this team. For the seniors,” Toliver said. “Underclassmen, help the seniors get this dub. We just need a win. Need to go out on positive vibes and keep this team up with all the negativity going on.”