Missouri plays in quite a few football rivalry games each year.

There’s the Mayor’s Cup against South Carolina, which eventually ends up in either Columbia, Missouri, or Columbia, South Carolina.

The annual tilt against Kentucky isn’t a rivalry in name, but it feels like one having produced some of the most controversial and dramatic football moments since the Tigers joined the Southeastern Conference.

Then there’s the Battle Line Rivalry against Arkansas, based on geographical proximity, which Missouri players maintain is the biggest rivalry of all.

“The rivalry has grown a lot,” Tauskie Dove said. “Especially the competition. We have had a lot going on, so this is one of the biggest games of the year for us.”

Although the Tigers lost last year’s game in Fayetteville, Arkansas, 34-17, they hold the edge in the series, having won nine of 13 games all-time against the Razorbacks. Missouri defeated Arkansas five straight times between 2016-20, capped off by a dramatic 50-48 win the last time the two teams faced off at Memorial Stadium.

“We have done pretty well against them since the rivalry started,” Brady Cook said. “It’s here to stay, from what I hear. As long as we get the job done this week, good things will happen for us.”

This year’s Battle Line Rivalry game has more than just a 180-pound trophy on the line. For the Tigers, a victory means six wins and guaranteed bowl eligibility. First, though, comes beating Arkansas, which provides all the motivation players need.

Banister questionable ahead of Arkansas clash

Barrett Banister is an anchor of consistency and leadership to Missouri’s offense, but there’s a chance he misses his last game at Memorial Stadium.

Cook said Tuesday it will make a difference if Banister can’t play, but it won’t be too much of a problem given the depth and talent the quarterback has out wide.

“Everybody knows that we have a really good chemistry out there,” Cook said.

From scramble drills to zone coverage plays, Banister has been Cook’s “safety blanket” for 10 of the last 11 games.

The sixth-year receiver missed the Florida game following an injury against Georgia.

“Honestly, Barrett, he’s like Albert Einstein out there on the field,” Dove said. “If someone asks him a question, he’s going to answer it immediately.”

Dove noted Banister didn’t practice Monday and Tuesday. And without that leadership, the wide receiver group focused on improving communication, executing the details and focusing on the task ahead.

Another target opened up for Cook last week against New Mexico State: tight end Ryan Hoerstkamp. The redshirt freshman turned his first collegiate target into a touchdown, adding another weapon to Cook’s disposal.

“He’s worked his butt off,” Cook said. “He’s been blocking. And obviously, he finally got an opportunity to make a big play, and he did it.”

What the Tigers learned from last season’s loss to Arkansas

Missouri’s 34-17 loss at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium was far from pretty for the team in black and gold. Missouri prioritized the run game, finishing with 251 yards on the ground, but it wasn’t enough to win. Former quarterback Connor Bazelak threw for 65 yards, and the Tigers converted seven of 19 possible third downs as their regular season ended in deflating defeat.

“When you look at the game from last year, we were actually able to move the ball at times, but we couldn’t get it done on third down or in the red zone,” Cook said. “I think situational football is going to be big.”

Missouri trailed 10-6 at halftime but gave up 14 points in the third quarter as the Razorbacks pulled away.

“It’s a new year, new players, new scheme,” Dove said. “I feel like it’s a new everything, really.”

On Friday, the Tigers hope to put that defeat behind them for good, and that begins with better execution and improved situational football.

Dove uncertain of his future

While he was one of the 21 seniors to walk Saturday, Dove hasn’t made a decision on next season. The fifth-year receiver has one year of eligibility left.

“I would love to come back to Mizzou, but I’ll have to think some more on it,” Dove said.

Friday marks a third straight meeting with former coach Barry Odom. There are still contributors on both sides for Missouri that Odom recruited, including Dove and Cook.

“No not really, unless you’re one of those people who are weird about it,” Dove said about facing his former coach. “It’s just football, nothing personal.”

Originally published on columbiamissourian.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.