FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — When Arkansas coach Houston Nutt wants to watch game film of Missouri, he makes sure to check the label before he pops in the tape. That way, no confusion occurs.
“When you look in the film, it’s almost like looking at us,” Nutt said. “We’re so similar in a lot of ways. We may not be the biggest team in the Southeastern Conference, they may not be the biggest Big 12 (Conference) team, but we’ve both got a lot of heart, we both played hard. It’s just amazing, when you look at it. It ought to be a great matchup.”
The Razorbacks play the Tigers on Dec. 31 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Each team finished with an 8-4 regular-season record and 4-4 conference record. Arkansas’s rushing offense is ranked No. 7 in the nation with 237.08 yards per game, and Missouri’s is ranked No. 8 with 236.25.
The similarities make tailback Cedric Cobbs think Arkansas will win. Cobbs, a senior, led the Razorbacks with 107.2 rushing yards per game and was named All-SEC.
“Overall, I don’t think that they’re going to give us a lot of trouble,” Cobbs said. “We’ll be pretty much even matched, and the team that has the biggest heart will end up winning. We’re definitely focusing on winning.”
Senior George Wilson is Arkansas’ leading receiver with 47 catches for six touchdowns. He sees the teams’ identical starts, 4-0, as a reason the game will be close.
“I know they came out the gate similar to the way we came out,” Wilson said. “I think it’ll be a competitive ballgame in Shreveport just because we have so many similarities, so many things in common.”
The Razorbacks lost three straight in October. Missouri followed each loss with a win. Arkansas finished with a 55-24 loss to No. 2 Louisiana State, and Missouri is coming off a 49-7 win against Iowa State.
Unsurprisingly, sophomore quarterback Brad Smith is the only Missouri player name any Razorback knows. Arkansas players likened Smith to Razorback quarterback Matt Jones. Jones, at 6-feet-6 and 225 pounds, is the top running quarterback in the SEC with 52.8 rushing yards per game. Jones also averages 155.7 rushing yards per game.
Senior safety Tony Bua knows Missouri as: “A good offense that relies on the legs of its quarterback, and that’s kind of like us.”
Bua leads the Razorbacks with 121 tackles and has six pass breakups.