VOTE: Who is Arkansas’ biggest rival? Missouri?

·2 min read

The Battle Line Rivalry, it’s called. Arkansas vs. Missouri.

From its inception, the meeting between the bordering states has been a bit of a joke in that few took it seriously. The idea made sense. Arkansas and Missouri are a lot alike for most of their recent history. Its populations, outside of Kansas City and St. Louis are similar. Both schools are the unquestioned No. 1 acts in the Show-Me and Natural states.

The problem has been calling it a ‘rivalry’ from the word go. The word is loaded and for a team brand-new to the SEC when the game was dubbed as such, ensured the meeting’s laughingstock status for the next several years.

That’s especially been the case lately, with Missouri winning the last five games. In fact, since the trophy has existed, Arkansas has owned it just once, lessening the animosity that could be built, at least on one side.

Now, though, Arkansas is on the come and Missouri is regularly a .500-ish team. Potential exists to ignite a spark, especially after Eli Drinkwitz, who honed his skills as a high-school assistant coach one town over from Fayetteville, bagged on Razorbacks in jest during SEC Media Days.

But you’re kidding yourself if you think that commented mattered. Drinkwitz is a native of Alma, Arkansas, less than an hour from Fayetteville. He likely doesn’t hate the Hogs. They don’t hate him, either.

That’s kind of a problem for a rivalry, though. And brought the question to our minds.

Who is Arkansas’ biggest rival in football? More fundamentally, what creates a rivalry? It should involve some animus, certainly. But as the lack of passion around the Battle Line shows, history is important, too. For our money, the teams should also be similar in stature. You can have hatred and history all you want, but if you never win (or always win), only side is going to care much.

LSU is probably the answer to the question, even if the Tigers have been far better than Arkansas for most of the last 20 years. Ole Miss and Mississippi State, especially the latter, are better answers. The contrary is that those two have each other. But the counter that, even, is Arkansas has Texas, which will join the SEC soon.

If Missouri wins on Friday it will have been for the sixth straight time and be a blow to Arkansas’ incredible comeback season. That would create some legitimate anger going into 2022. But if Arkansas wins, it’s hard to imagine anyone in Razorbacks Country being inspired to loathe Missouri more than they already do, which, in most corners, isn’t all that much.