Tennessee took care of its business on Saturday, knocking off Missouri in Neyland Stadium by a final of 63-37.
LSU, however, didn’t hold up its end of the bargain earlier in the day.
After falling 24-21 at South Carolina on Oct. 29, the Vols lost control of their own destiny in the SEC East. That ended up putting the onus on LSU to beat Florida in Baton Rouge on Saturday to send the Vols to Atlanta.
Before the first quarter ended in Knoxville, LSU fell after it was unable to convert a fourth-and-goal from the 1 that would’ve given it a lead with seconds remaining in the game.
That ended Tennessee’s chances at one of its primary goals this season – winning the SEC East.
But the Vols still had a game to finish. And after struggling through much of three quarters, particularly on defense, Tennessee got a huge boost from its senior quarterback to help finish off the game. Joshua Dobbs scored on runs of 30 and 70 yards late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, respectively, to give Tennessee (8-3, 4-3 SEC) some cushion.
Alvin Kamara, who very well might’ve played his final game in Neyland Stadium as well, punched in a 2-yard score to give Tennessee a commanding 49-30 edge with 9:25 remaining in the game. Missouri cut the lead to 12 on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Drew Lock. But Dobbs had a 40-yard run on the next drive to set up a John Kelly 27-yard run that again put the Vols comfortably ahead, this time 56-37 with just under six minutes to play. A late pick-six by defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo led to the final margin.
That interception was a rare defensive bright spot in what was the worst performance in school history on that side of the ball, at least from a statistical standpoint. Mizzou piled up 740 yards of total offense, breaking the previous record mark that was set by Troy in Neyland Stadium in 2012 (721).
While the defense was poor, Dobbs was brilliant as he spearheaded a potent UT attack. He wrapped up his career in Neyland by completing 15-of-22 passes for 223 yards, running for 190 yards on 10 carries and accounting for five total touchdowns in the game – tying him for second all-time in UT history with former quarterback Casey Clausen at 81 in his career.
Two of those touchdowns were passes to junior receiver Josh Malone, who had a 57-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to give UT a 14-6 advantage.
Dobbs was one of 14 players who was honored for Senior Day before the game.
“What can I say about the performance of Joshua Dobbs?” Butch Jones said following the game. “Very fitting last game for him at Neyland”