Missouri holds off Arkansas 29-27 to reach bowl eligibility

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri and Arkansas will be headed to similar bowl games after the Tigers held off the Razorbacks 29-27 on Saturday night, leaving each of the bitter border rivals 6-6 on the season.

Only one walked out of Faurot Field with victory cigars.

Brady Cook threw for 242 yards and a touchdown while running for 138 yards and a score, and Missouri’s defense stuffed Arkansas when it mattered in the fourth quarter, allowing the Tigers to avenge last year’s loss to the Razorbacks.

“We wanted it so bad,” admitted Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz, who said he bought cigars for the entire team in anticipation of reaching bowl eligibility. “We tried not to make it bigger than it was, but we were playing for more.”

Cody Schrader added 97 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Dominic Lovett – who had to ditch his own lit cigar on the way to the postgame new conference – had six catches for 130 yards, helping the Tigers (6-6, 3-5) qualify for a third bowl game in Drinkwitz’s first three seasons in Columbia.

“We only won by two,” Lovett said after smacking the tobacco taste out of his mouth, “but a win’s a win. We got it done.”

Arkansas (6-6, 4-4) had the ball twice with less than 8 minutes left and a chance to drive for a go-ahead field goal, but the Tigers forced three-and-outs both times and essentially ran out the clock on their first league win in a month.

“We’ve all been through hell – can I say hell? Well, I just said it twice,” Lovett said. “It was a good day all around.”

The Razorbacks’ KJ Jefferson threw for 205 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while running for a score, though he was constantly harassed by Missouri’s aggressive defensive front. Raheim Sanders, the league’s second-leading rusher, was held to just 47 yards on the ground with a touchdown reception.

“We’ve got a very disappointed locker room right now and we’d certainly like to get this taste out of our mouth in a bowl game,” Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman said, “but this is going to be hard to get rid of.”

Missouri actually scored on each of its first four drives yet still trailed at halftime.

That’s because the Razorbacks were better at reaching the end zone.

While the Tigers got touchdown runs from Schrader and Cook to cap long drives, they also had to settle for a pair of field goals from Harrison Mevis, including a chipshot after a drive stalled at the Arkansas 10 late in the first half.

The Razorbacks were forced to punt twice, thanks to Missouri’s pass rush, but they also got a short TD run from Jefferson and his touchdown pass to Matt Landers. And when the Razorbacks got the ball back with 5 1/2 minutes before the break, they breezed 75 yards down field and Jefferson hit Sanders out of the backfield for a 21-20 lead.

Missouri regained the lead in the third quarter when Luther Burden III caught a short pass, put a move on the Razorbacks’ Quincey McAdoo, and reached the end zone from 23 yards out. And after Jefferson was picked off moments later, Mevis hit his third field goal to give the Tigers a 29-21 advantage.

The Razorbacks had a chance to retake the lead in the fourth quarter, after they’d closed to within 29-24, but they couldn’t get into the end zone after first-and-goal at the Missouri 2 and Pittman settled for another field goal.

That wound up being the difference in the game.

“We felt like coming in here we were ready to go,” Pittman said, “and physically we just got whipped.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Arkansas simply made too many mistakes to beat anyone in the SEC. The offensive line gave up seven sacks, penalty flags flew at costly times and Pittman’s conservative play on fourth down may have cost the Razorbacks the game.

Missouri’s defense made stops when it mattered the most, particularly in the fourth quarter. They stuffed Arkansas at the goal line, then forced consecutive three-and-outs in the waning minutes to essentially run out the clock.

UP NEXT

Both teams await bowl destinations with the Tigers possibly jumping the Razorbacks in the pecking order. “Honestly,” Drinkwitz said, “I don’t give a crap where we play. It’s a bowl game, it’s a celebration. Wherever our administration thinks it’s best for us to go, we’ll saddle up and go.”

Arkansas rockets past No. 20 Ole Miss behind Sanders’ 3 TDs

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas’ Rocket Sanders rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns, including a 68-yarder on the opening drive of the second half, in a 42-27 rout of No. 20 Ole Miss on Saturday night.

The Razorbacks had a 35-6 halftime lead, and the Rebels’ 21 fourth-quarter points made the game appear closer than it was.

Sanders averaged 9.7 yards on 24 carries, helping Arkansas (6-5, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) snap a two-game skid and become bowl-eligible. He gained 153 yards in the first half.

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson returned from his injury, going 17 of 22 passing for 168 yards and three scores. Matt Landers added two touchdown receptions for the Hogs.

Ole Miss (8-3, 4-3, No. 14 CFP) moved the ball and had chances early. But holding penalties nullified two touchdown passes from Jaxson Dart. The Rebels lost a fumble, were forced to settle for two field goals on promising drives and missed a field-goal try.

The Rebels had two 200-yard rushers – Quinshon Judkins (214) and Zach Evans (207) – but still trailed by 36 points at one point.

Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders picked off a Dart pass, setting up Sanders’ 8-yard scoring run just before halftime for the 35-6 cushion.

THE TAKEAWAY

Ole Miss: The Rebels were outclassed in the wake of a tough 30-24 loss to Alabama, but they can’t let the setback linger since bitter rival Mississippi State looms.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks looked like a different team, especially on offense, after being upset by Liberty and dropping a tight game against LSU.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Ole Miss will almost certainly tumble out of the Top 25.

UP NEXT

Ole Miss: Hosts Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on Friday.

Arkansas: Visits Missouri on Saturday.

No. 7 LSU ekes out 13-10 road win over Arkansas

LSU v Arkansas
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Josh Williams ran for 122 yards and a touchdown, Harold Perkins Jr. had four sacks and two forced fumbles and the defense for No. 7 LSU held Arkansas to 249 yards in its 13-10 win Saturday.

The Tigers (8-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) forced and recovered an Arkansas fumble on the Razorbacks’ final drive with 1:19 left to clinch the win.

Arkansas (5-5, 2-4) attempted to rally in the fourth quarter behind third-string quarterback Cade Fortin. He entered in the third quarter to replace an ineffective Malik Hornsby and threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Matt Landers with 13:12 left to pull Arkansas within three.

Williams had scored LSU’s only touchdown, a 1-yarder, late in the third quarter to give the Tigers a 10-point lead. LSU’s offense otherwise struggled, with only one of its 13 series yielding more than 40 yards.

Perkins, a freshman linebacker, stripped Fortin late in the game. The defense had eight tackles for loss and held Arkansas to 3.7 yards per play.

Arkansas sacked LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels seven times, limiting the SEC’s top rusher at the position to 10 yards on 19 carries. Daniels completed 8 of 15 passes for 86 yards and an interception.

The Razorbacks were without their usual starting quarterback, KJ Jefferson, announcing minutes before kickoff that Jefferson would not play due to a shoulder injury. Fortin finished 8 of 13 for 92 yards with the score and the lost fumble.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

LSU isn’t likely to jump given the margin of victory, but the Tigers won a game they couldn’t afford to lose.

THE TAKEAWAY

LSU: Looked much different Saturday than in last week’s win over Alabama. LSU’s College Football Playoff hopes may hinge on which team shows up at each game.

Arkansas: Remained a game short of bowl eligibility, dropping to .500 in Sam Pittman‘s third season. Arkansas won nine games last year.

UP NEXT

LSU: Hosts UAB on Nov. 19.

Arkansas: Hosts Ole Miss on Nov. 19 in its final home game of the season.