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Bielma, Pinkel Talk About Budding Arkansas-Mizzou Rivalry

Gary Pinkel thinks the Arkansas-Missouri rivalry will emerge as one of the nation's strongest over time. The retiring Missouri coach said he has great respect for the Arkansas program and discussed an old rivalry that disappeared.

Gary Pinkel got a little confused about the Battle Line Rivalry Trophy. The Missouri coach thought it was already in the football building in Columbia.

It turns out there is a new trophy that he hasn't seen, but he said there was one last year, too. The Tigers have had it all year after beating Arkansas, 21-14, in Columbia.

"The one here is big, so big it takes four players to lift it," he said. "I thought that was the one you were asking about. I guess there is a new one and I haven't seen it yet."

Pinkel followed Arkansas coach Bret Bielema on Wednesday's SEC Teleconference. The Tigers and Hogs meet at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Fayetteville in the second game of what is billed as the SEC's newest rivalry. Missouri won the SEC East Division championship in its first two years in the league. The Tigers are fighting to gain bowl eligibility in what will be Pinkel's last game. He announced two weeks ago that he would retire due to health reasons.

Bielema praised Pinkel, finishing his 15th season at the Mizzou helm. The Arkansas coach said he's gotten to know him during the last three years, listening to him on the teleconference and sitting with him at league meetings.

"It's clear what he stands for," Bielema said. "He does not waver. You can tell the players identify in what he stands for because he's the same every day. He stands up for what is right. I saw that at an SEC meeting last spring. There was a discussion about a particular thing and he spoke up and said we should do what is right."

The Tigers lost their best rivalry game, a traditional late season game with Kansas, when they joined the SEC. Pinkel was asked if it hit him that this would be a game with no players on the Mizzou team that had ever played in the MU-KU game?

"I guess that's right," he said. "That's strange. What a rivalry that was. I hope that the two sides can get together and resume that game, maybe home and home and maybe a game in Kansas City.

"I'm certain this game with Arkansas can become great as we go forward. I talked to our players about that. I have great respect for the Arkansas program. I think this game will get better. It's adjacent to us in the southwest part of Missouri. There is potential for this (rivalry) to be as good as any in the country."

Pinkel said he looks forward to seeing Fayetteville for the first time and playing in another great SEC venue.

"We have some of the best in the country and I know this one will be like that with a great atmosphere," Pinkel said. "I look for the future of this game to get bigger and bigger because it's going to be a situation with great stadiums and great fans."

Bielema was asked about the development of the offense and the evolution of quarterback Brandon Allen.

"When I got here, he'd had one start, against Alabama," Bielema said. "Sometimes you are thrown into the fire too quickly and it scars a young quarterback for life. You may have to peel back the layers to the scars. But he's been the best bet for us every time we've taken the field.

"I know you guys have interviewed him and he's a great kid and a great person. What I see now is that he's got a lot of good players around him. You name it -- wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line and running backs -- he's got it. I also think you have a coordinator that is really good in Dan Enos."

Bielema pointed to Enos again when he was asked about the way the offense has blossomed since the bye week in the last five games.

"I think you see a coordinator in Dan who is really good," Bielema said. "But I will go back to our last three years at Wisconsin and we were scoring 50 to 60 points at times and people were getting mad. We weren't in hurry up, we were huddling. You can impose your will at times and the other guy taps out."

Then, he switched his mind to this week's game with Missouri.

"We think we have a really good game plan and we hope our defense can patch things up," Bielema said.

Pinkel was asked to describe what Arkansas has in tight ends Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle.

Bielema said the Hogs have bounced back after the 51-50 loss to Mississippi State.

"Obviously, it takes a little bit to spit something out like that," he said. "But we got to practice a day early (because of the early game on Friday) and that helped us spit it out. I really like the response by the players, especially Sunday night. They responded very well.

"I think they will be excited to play the game on Friday. It's a different situation because of Coach Pinkel and everything that he's brought to the coaching profession. We have tremendous respect for Coach Pinkel and we know his team will come in here flying high to play for him.

"For us, it's senior day. We have some great seniors who have been through quite an odyssey. There has been a lot of transition for them."

"They can do so many things," Pinkel said. "They can put them out wide. They can run behind them. It's hard to game plan against them. They run the ball when they are in. The coordinator obviously is using them and maxing out with them. They do an awful lot with them and they make plays."

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