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Emptying the Notebook: Notes, tidbits, stats on Arkansas-Missouri

Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom is a Missouri graduate who also coached the Tigers.
Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom is a Missouri graduate who also coached the Tigers. (Arkansas Athletics)

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FAYETTEVILLE — There is no shortage of connections between Arkansas and Missouri on both teams’ coaching staffs.

The most obvious is that Saturday’s game will mark the return of Barry Odom to the school at which he played and worked for a large chunk of his life. Now the Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator, he was the Tigers’ head coach for four seasons before getting fired following a 6-6 season in 2019.

However, Odom isn’t the only assistant coach with experience at Missouri. Offensive line coach Brad Davis held the same position with the Tigers the last two years, while cornerbacks coach Sam Carter was a quality control coach there for four years.

Head coach Sam Pittman admitted that this game probably means a little more to them, but you wouldn’t now it based on how they’ve been in practice and meetings this week.

“I’m sure they have their own motivation and things of that nature, but no, I haven’t seen anything different out of them,” Pittman said. “(They) certainly have worked hard and prepared well and all those things, but haven’t really seen anything different.”

As the Tigers’ head coach, Odom went 25-25 overall and 13-19 in SEC play. Before that, he was Missouri’s defensive coordinator in 2015 and also worked there as a safeties coach (2009-11), director of football operations (2006-08), director of recruiting (2004-05) and graduate assistant (2003).

As a player, he was a standout linebacker for the Tigers who was chosen as a team captain his senior year in 1999.

“I think he has a lot of love for his former players,” Pittman said. “At the same time, the University of Arkansas is paying him. He wants to do a great job for Arkansas.

“I’m sure there’s a little bit of mixed feelings, just as I had playing against Georgia, but the bottom line is that Barry’s a competitor and he will certainly have our football team ready to play.”

Arkansas’ players have also recognized the connection between Odom and Missouri, but it is just one source of motivation that also includes simply winning another game to improve to 4-5 on the season.

“We want to go win the game for them, but more importantly we want to just win the game,” linebacker Grant Morgan said. “It’s a week where we want to go win the game for us, too.”

Here are a few other notes, tidbits and stats from the week leading up to Saturday’s game at Missouri, which will kick off at 11 a.m. CT and be televised on the SEC Network…

Fostering a Rivalry

The game is officially called the “Battle Line Rivalry” (presented by Shelter Insurance), but most fans have been resistant to acknowledging it as a real rivalry.

It has seemed forced by both schools and the SEC, from replacing LSU as Arkansas’ traditional Black Friday opponent, to giving it a name and slapping a corporate sponsorship on it, to creating a shiny new trophy.

On top of that, the Razorbacks have struggled in the series. Since joining the conference, Missouri is 5-1 against Arkansas. Its lone loss came in 2015, when the Razorbacks won 28-3 in Fayetteville. More competitiveness is likely a key to the matchup eventually being viewed as a rivalry.

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