Game Preview: Tennessee at Missouri

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    Tennessee (4-5) at Missouri (4-5)

    Saturday, Nov. 11th, 7:30 ET

    Faurot Field (71,004) • Columbia, MO

    TV: SEC Network

    Series Record: Missouri leads 3-2

     Setting the table

    Tennessee finally ended their losing streak with a 24-10 win over Southern Miss last weekend. But the Vols are still winless in conference play and have just three more SEC games to find that first win. Missouri comes in to this game red hot with three straight wins while averaging over 50 points in those three wins. They got their first SEC win last weekend with a convincing victory over Florida.

     Who has the edge

    When Tennessee throws…

    Jarrett Guarantano’s health has been one of the big questions this week facing the Vols. He’s expected to play against Missouri, but can he last the whole game? He couldn’t against Southern Miss, and Will McBride played the entire second half. Tennessee’s offensive line is also banged up, and while Missouri’s front seven isn’t what it’s been the past three or four years, they’re still good. The Tigers have a really bad pass defense, though, so surely the Vols can take advantage. Edge: Slightly to Tennessee

    When Tennessee runs…

    John Kelly was about all the Vols had going for them on the ground last week against a rather stout Southern Miss defense. Missouri’s defense isn’t as good as the Golden Eagles’ was, so expect a better overall performance from Tennessee’s ground game in this one. Edge: Tennessee

    When Missouri throws…

    Drew Lock is the best pure passer the Vols will face this season. Tennessee’s passing defense has been surprisingly good, but they’ve also benefited from the fact that they haven’t played many pass heavy teams. Missouri will easily be their toughest test since Alabama, and the Vols let up over 300 passing yards in that one. Edge: Significantly to Missouri 

    When Missouri runs…

    Missouri is without their second-leading rusher in Damerea Crockett, but they still have plenty of capable backs who can find some space against Tennessee’s porous run defense. The Tigers have allowed the least amount of tackles for loss this season in the SEC, and the Vols are tied for 8th in the conference in tackles for loss. Edge: Missouri

    On special teams…

    With Evan Berry out for the season, Tennessee’s kick return game takes a hit. The Vols still have capable returners, but nobody compares to Berry. Missouri is one of the few teams this year that compares favorably to the Vols across the board in special teams. The Tigers have good coverage teams, punt well, and make their field goals when they attempt them. Edge: Push

     Best-case scenario for UT 

    Tennessee manages to pull off the “upset” over another 4-5 team and gets their first SEC win of the season. A win would keep the Vols’ very slim hopes of making a bowl game alive, and it would mean they would need to win just one of their final two games.

     Worst-case scenario for UT

    The Vols not only lose this game, but they do so in embarrassing fashion. It’s one thing to get blown out by Georgia and Alabama, two of the top teams in the country. It’s another if a 4-5 Missouri team does it.

     How we think it’ll play out

    The Vols should be able to score on Missouris’ bad defense. But unfortunately for Tennessee, Missouri’s offense is far more potent than theirs, and the Tigers should be able to outpace the Vols in this one. Tennessee will need to force turnovers and win the field position battle if they want to win this one, and they haven’t done that much in SEC play.

    Our picks:

    Nathanael: Missouri 45-20
    Will: Missouri 28-16
    Ben: Missouri 38-17