Arkansas Razorbacks (6-5 SU, 9-2 ATS) vs. No. 17 Missouri Tigers (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date and Time: Friday November 28th, 2014. 2:30PM EST
Where: Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field Columbia, M.O.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ARK -1.5/MIZZ +1.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
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The fate of the SEC East will come down to an intriguing match-up this Friday between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the 17th ranked Missouri Tigers. At 9-2 SU (6-1 in the SEC), the Tigers must score a victory to take down the SEC East crown for the 2nd straight season. Surprisingly Missouri has just 1 loss in conference play this season and holds a 1 game advantage over Georgia in the East. Some would argue that the Tigers were fortunate with their schedule as they only faced Texas A&M thus far out of the West but regardless the Tigers are just one win away from wrapping up their 2nd straight trip to the SEC Championship Game. At 6-5 SU, Arkansas does not appear to be the biggest threat to Missouris title chances at least at first glance. However Arkansas may be the sleeping giant that has awoken in the SEC West.
After suffering through 17 straight conference losses, Arkansas ended their SEC losing streak a few weeks back with a 17-0 shutout against No.17 LSU. I actually made a bold prediction in that game and stated Arkansas would win convincingly. The reason is that the Razorbacks are a tough team to beat. If you cannot see it on paper from the way they took Texas A&M, Alabama, and Mississippi State down to the wire, then just consider the tangibles. The Razorbacks run the ball as well as any team in the country averaging 226 yards per game. The offense has two great running backs Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. Williams has already eclipsed the 1,000 yard plateau on the season and Collins is just 35 yards away from accomplishing the same feat. Together both backs have combined for 23 touchdowns on the season. As a result of their successful rushing attack, the Razorbacks often eat up a lot of clock and limit the number of opportunities from opposing offenses.
Then offenses have to deal with a Razorbacks defense that has literally gotten better through each week of the season. The defense ranks 16th in the FBS in scoring giving up just 20.2 points per game. Oh by the way, the Razorbacks backed up their shutout against LSU with another shutout last week in a 30-0 route against #8 Ole Miss. With the victory, Arkansas became the first unranked team since 1942 to shutout two ranked teams in the same season. The Razorbacks became the first to accomplish that feat in consecutive weeks and against top 10 opponents. Now Arkansas looks to prove they are more than just a team capable of pulling off a couple of surprising wins, but Coach Bielema has this team believing they will be a new contender in the SEC West in 2015.
Needless to say, Missouri is going to have to earn their bid to Atlanta this Friday. After a loss to Indiana early this year, I think most people from the SEC wrote off the Tigers. In fact most of Missouris wins have not even been impressive this season but they just keep finding ways to win. Similar to their success last year, Missouris defense has been most impressive holding teams to just 20.2 points per game which is tied with Arkansas for the 16th best mark in the FBS. Offensively, Missouri is very balanced between the run and the pass. Quarterback Maty Mauk has struggled at times but has still been solid when the team needed him the most. Mauk has thrown for 2,014 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 picks on the season. Meanwhile running backs Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy have been the work horses on the ground carrying the ball more than 300 times combined. Both backs have performed well and it will be interesting to see if Missouris offensive line can make holes for the ground game against Arkansass physical defensive front this Friday. I believe the outcome of that match-up will ultimately decide this game.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Arkansas has been an absolute moneymaker for bettors this season and they are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games. I was already siding with Arkansas in this game from a match-up standpoint but the trends also support the play as well when you also consider Missouri is just 2-4 ATS in their last 6 at home. Take Arkansas -1.5!