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Mizzou football focused on winning trophy game, not bowl eligibility

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Mizzou football team will look to bring the Battle Line Trophy back to Columbia in Friday's game against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Last year, Hogs head coach Sam Pittman and company beat MU 34-17 in Fayetteville to keep that coveted trophy. However, the Tigers did win the last meeting in Columbia, in 2020, as MU holds the 9-4 edge over the Razorbacks, historically.

Watch extended highlights from Monday's practice below.

https://youtu.be/e3uAyRBr1gk

Mizzou needs one more win in order to get bowl eligible for the 2022 season. Head coach Eli Drinkwitz said the only thing on the mind of his football team right now is bringing that trophy back to Columbia.

"It's a rivalry game and it's trophy week," he said. "None of the other stuff matters. The most important thing to us is that they have a trophy and we want it. The only way to get it is to play our best game and to prepare the way that we know how to prepare."

Watch the full press conference with Drinkwitz in the video player below.

https://youtu.be/UH7wsHo65Uw

MU safety Martez Manuel said the game against Arkansas is easily the group's biggest game this season.

"We know that this game holds weight and we know that got it at home and we got it to our advantage. We want to take advantage of that," he said.

You can watch the full press conference with Manuel as well as with linebacker Chad Bailey in the video player below.

https://youtu.be/sh6CWc6TOeI
https://youtu.be/jZA3Nj9Ixeo

The Tigers will have to get through redshirt-junior quarterback KJ Jefferson to get the win. He's caused a lot of havoc in this rivalry game in the past.

"This will be the third time that we've played against him," Drinkwitz said. "Golly, I hope he's graduating or going pro or something. Holy cow. He's an unbelievable player and is able to really throw the football extremely well."

You can hear more about the defense's plan of attack from defensive coordinator Blake Baker in the video player below.

https://youtu.be/ZEmX8Vc4-NQ

During his game week press conference, Drinkwitz also learned that the Razorback's standout linebacker Bumper Pool may not play on Friday, according to Pittman.

"I think Sam's just throwing out rat poisoning, that's what I think that is. I think that's rat poisoning. I think Bumper Pool is a tremendous player. He's a tough young man and he plays his guts out. I would be shocked if he didn't find a way to play in a rivalry game."

Even though Drinkwitz said his team is not focused on bowl eligibility, it is still on the line against Arkansas. The Tigers sit at 5-6 so far in 2022, but Drinkwitz added that he's still seen quite a bit of growth this year, despite the win-loss record.

He said one of the biggest points of growth is on the defensive side of the ball. He also pointed to a new indoor practice facility, historic recruiting classes and being one of the only Mizzou coaches to make back-to-back bowl games.

Drinkwitz said he knows there is also room for growth offensively.

"We are dealing with a pretty young football team. When you're starting a redshirt freshman center, you're starting a quarterback who hadn't played a whole lot. You got maybe your best two offensive weapons are a true sophomore and a true freshman," he said. "The future, to me, is really bright."

Mizzou and Arkansas will kick off at Faurot Field on Friday at 2:30 p.m.

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Nathalie Jones

Nathalie anchors and reports sports for ABC17. She started working at the station in June 2020.

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