Low gray clouds huddled over Faurot Field on Black Friday, a harsh wind whipped through the stadium, and a cold rain fell, gradually soaking those in attendance despite the best efforts of ponchos and rain coats.
The hardy fans in attendance braved the elements, both because it was the Missouri’s last game in Columbia for nine long months, and because it was one more chance to cheer for an accomplished senior class, including Drew Lock, Emanuel Hall, Terry Beckner Jr. and Terez Hall, just to name some. The weather was brutal, but sometimes when it rains on your parade, you have to parade on the rain.
But the Missouri Tigers did just that, dominating Arkansas to win the Battle Line Rivalry game 38-0. Missouri (8-4, 4-4 in SEC) took the drama out of the contest quickly, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive on a run by Lock, who is generally known more for his passing than his running. The Tigers poured it on with three more touchdowns in the second quarter, including one by the defense on a fumble recovery in the end zone, to make it 28-0 at the break.
Arkansas (2-10, 0-8 in SEC) had a season as miserable as Friday’s weather under first-year coach Chad Morris, so Missouri’s win was largely expected. But the Tigers upped the ante by totally dominating the game and pitching a shutout, a rarity in conference play in today’s college football.
Missouri has now won three straight over their sort-of rival, making coach Barry Odom 3-0 against the Razorbacks. Missouri is 7-3 all-time against Arkansas, including 4-1 in the SEC era.
This senior class has seen a lot in their time in Columbia. They started their careers under Gary Pinkel and finished under Odom. They saw the futility and controversy of 2015, the growing pains under Odom in 2016 and the first half of 2017, the dramatic turnaround in the second half of 2017, and now this season, their highest win total. After the brutal loss to Kentucky, the Tigers worked past the disappointment and reeled off four straight wins, three of which were in dominating fashion.
The weather required fortitude from the fans, but they got to see one more day of Lock piling up touchdowns, Hall intercepting a pass and making tackles, Beckner Jr. and Walter Palmore wreaking havoc on the line, and Hall catching a long touchdown pass. Even punter Corey Fatoney, who seemed destined to go on the disabled list from overuse in 2015, got to boom some more punts through the raindrops. Paul Adams and Kevin Pendleton anchoring the offensive line. Brandon Lee and Cam Hilton on defense.
Now the Tigers await their bowl destination, the final chapter of their season. It was overall a success, although narrow losses to South Carolin and Kentucky left fans wondering what might have been, or what if Hall had been healthy against Georgia.
But today, it’s better to appreciate what was, another winning season and another bowl. On Dec. 2 the Tigers will find out where that bowl will be.