Monday, December 31, 2007

Cotton Bowl Preview


Arkansas vs Missouri 11:30 AM ET
Dallas, TX
Line: MZ -3, 68



Arkansas Razorbacks
(8-4, 4-4)
The Razorbacks entered this season after a tumultuous off season from off the field problems with Houston Nutt's cell phone and the transferring of former Parade All American QB Mitch Mustain to USC. Arkansas suffered three closes in the first half of the year, but closed strong with a win over LSU in Baton Rouge. Houston Nutt turned down an extension and left for Ole Miss. Nutt made the move because he "wanted to unify the Arkansas fanbase".
Best Win: @ LSU 50-48 3OT
Worst Loss: @ Tenn 13-34
Record vs Bowl Teams: 2-4
Record vs BCS Top 25: 1-2
Schedule Strength: 64th
HC Herring Record in Bowls: 0-0


Missouri Tigers (11-2, 7-1)
Missouri was a little under the radar this year, but burst onto the scene by going 11-1 during the regular season and winning the Border War against Kansas. The Tigers lost to only one opponent this year Oklahoma - once in Norman and once in the Big 12 Championship.
Best Win: vs Kansas 36-28
Worst Loss: vs Oklahoma 17-38
Record vs Bowl Teams: 5-2

Record vs BCS Top 25: 1-2
Schedule Strength: 25th
HC Pinkel Record in Bowls: 10-4

Arkansas Offense:
Darren McFadden will run the ball as a running back. He will run it as a QB. He will pass it out of the Wildhog formation. The Wildhog formation maximizes McFadden's touches and is very tough to defend because the junior is a very good passer in addition to being the best running back in the nation. The two-time Heisman runner up is joined by Felix Jones who would start on most teams in Div I; the tandem has 1,000 yards rushing each on the year. The QB Casey Dick is more of game manager than passer. When he does look down field, he will look for Marcus Monk.


Missouri Defense:
The Tiger D is an unsung group that has played the entire year in the shadow of the offense. They are good against the run allowing just 118 ypg. The pass defense has not been as good, but is still respectable at 262 ypg.

Missouri Offense:
Chase Daniel was too short to play for the "big time" programs, but was good enough for Missouri. The 4th place finisher in the Heisman passes the ball all over the field out of the shotgun, but his favorite target is redshirt freshman Jeremy Maclin. Maclin is a very dangerous receiver as well as an outstanding return man. When the Tigers run the ball, they will hand it off to Tony Temple. This offense is very high powered and has shown the ability to score on anyone; they
were held to 30 points only 1 time this season.

Arkansas Defense:
Interim HC Reggie Herring is also the DC for the Razorbacks. Arkansas has been a little soft against the run giving up almost 150 ypg. The Razorbacks have a strong secondary led by Vontae Richardson and Michael Grant. Arkansas is much better against the pass giving up just 211 ypg through the air.

Motivation:
The BCS' loss is the Cotton Bowl's gain. Missouri was robbed off a BCS bid in favor of Kansas who the Tigers beat on a neutral field. But Arkansas is in a coaching transition where there coach decided to go a rival school in the same conference. I am not sure what the players are thinking of Bobby Petrino after his history of job searching. Throw in that Darren McFadden could be thinking of the NFL and Felix Jones is also considering leaving and the Razorbacks motivation advantage is negated.

Oddsmaker Notes:
Missouri is 5-1 ATS on neutral fields in the last 3 years. Missouri is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 against teams with winning records.

Both teams have done well ATS this year. Arkansas is 7-4 and Missouri is 9-3.

Prediction:
If Arkansas is able to get McFadden going running and passing, then Arkansas is going to very tough to stop on offense. Missouri may come out a little flat with a BCS hangover still, but Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin will get going. The Razorbacks have trouble coming from more than two scores down because of their anemic offense.
Missouri 35 Arkansas 27
Missouri Wins, Covers, Under

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