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Tale of the Tape: No. 13 Tennessee @ No. 14 Missouri

Tennessee QB Joe Milton III strolls into the end zone. Photo by Jackson McCarter/RTI

No. 13 Tennessee football (7-2, 3-2 SEC) is set to travel to Columbia, Missouri, this weekend to face off against the Missouri Tigers (7-2, 3-2 SEC) at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

The top 15 matchup is a big one for both teams. Tennessee must win to keep their SEC Championship hopes alive, as they need to win and Georgia to lose this week, and then beat the Bulldogs next week in Neyland. As for the Tigers, hopes for Atlanta are finished, but Missouri will be looking to bounce back after a Georgia loss in front of their home crowd.

Tennessee’s offense has been playing its best football of the season as of late, and Missouri’s offense has been among the SEC’s best this year. This could turn into a track meet if Tennessee’s on, and the Vols’ offense is likely going to have to play really well to keep up.

Let’s take a look at how the Vols and Tigers stack up against one another.


Tennessee: Joe Milton III

Season stats (9 games):

168 completions on 257 attempts, 2,016 yards, 15 TD, 4 INT, 65.37 comp. %, 219.29 YPG, 12.0 yards per completion

59 rushes, 268 yards, 5 TD, 29.44 yards per game

Where Milton ranks in the SEC:

  • 7th in yards
  • 6th in completions, 5th in attempts
  • 7th in comp. %
  • 8th in yards per pass attempt (48th in FBS) (7.84)
  • 5th in TD (15)
  • T-9th in INT (4)
  • 8th in QBR (147.4)

Missouri: Brady Cook

Season stats (9 games):

183 completions on 271 attempts, 2,471 yards, 16 TD, 4 INT, 67.53 comp. %, 274.56 YPG, 13.5 yards per completion

69 rushes, 173 yards, 5 TD, 19.22 YPG

Where Cook ranks in the SEC:

  • 4th in yards
  • 4th in completions, 4th in attempts
  • 5th in comp. %
  • 5th in yards per pass attempt (16th in FBS) (9.09)
  • 4th in TD (16)
  • T-6th in INT (5)
  • 5th in QBR (159.33)

Advantage: Missouri

Explanation: Brady Cook has simply been one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC this season. The biggest threat on Missouri’s offense is the passing game, and after seeing how a Tennessee secondary without Kamal Hadden performed against Kentucky, Cook could be in for a day on Saturday.

It is important to note Joe Milton is playing the best football of his career right now and has strung together three really good games in a row. I expect Milton to keep the ball rolling and would probably take him over half of the SEC quarterbacks currently, but Cook makes the shortlist of quarterbacks I must give the edge to over Milton.

Running Back

Tennessee: Jaylen Wright, Jabari Small, Dylan Sampson

Tennessee rushing stats (9 games):

  • 1st in SEC with 2,050 rushing yards
  • 1st in SEC with 227.78 yards per game
  • 2nd in SEC with 5.78 yards per attempt
  • 17 rush TD (7th in SEC)
  1. Wright: 110 att., 826 yards, 3 TD, 7.5 YPC, 91.78 YPG (1st in SEC and 2nd in FBS in YPC, 3rd in SEC in YPG)
    1. Wright receiving: 19 rec., 111 yards, 0 TD, 12.33 YPG
  2. Small: 82 att., 415 yards, 2 TD, 5.1 YPC, 51.88 YPG
  3. Sampson: 71 att., 405 yards, 7 TD, 5.7 YPC (7th in SEC), 50.63 YPG
    1. Sampson receiving: 14 rec., 160 yards, 1 TD, 20 YPG

Missouri: Cody Schrader, Nathaniel Peat

Missouri rushing stats (9 games):

  • 7th in SEC with 1,343 rushing yards
  • 7th in SEC with 149.22 yards per game
  • 8th in SEC with 4.24 yards per attempt
  • 17 rush TD (6th in SEC)
  1. Schrader: 162 att., 919 yards, 10 TD, 5.7 YPC, 101.11 YPG (1st in SEC and 15th in FBS in yards, 9th in SEC and 12th in FBS in YPG)
    1. Schrader receiving: 15 rec., 75, 0 TD, 8.33 YPG
  2. McClain: 64 att., 274 yards, 2 TD, 4.3 YPC, 34.25 YPG

Advantage: Tennessee

Explanation: In terms of total rushing yardage, Missouri has the best player of the group. And while Cody Schrader is very talented and has turned Missouri’s rushing attack into a surprisingly dangerous one this year, Jaylen Wright is on another level. The SEC leader in yards per carry has bounced well from a poor outing at Alabama a couple of weeks ago and has his YPC mark back over seven. The junior is a game-changer, and based on what we saw from Wright’s backfield mate Dylan Sampson a couple of weeks ago in Lexington, the sophomore can carry the Tennessee offense, as well.

Schrader will be one to watch for, but considering Tennessee’s depth at RB and Missouri’s lack thereof, the Vols get the nod.

Note: It will be very important to see who runs the ball better, as if Missouri is running it well and can have balance offensively, that will be bad news for Tennessee.

Pass Catchers

Tennessee: WRs Squirrel White, Ramel Keyton, Dont’e Thornton, TE McCallan Castles

Tennessee stats (9 games):

  • White: 45 rec., 556 yards, 2 TD, 12.36 yards per reception, 61.78 YPG
  • Keyton: 24 rec., 412 yards, 4 TD, 17.17 yards per reception, 45.78 YPG
  • Castles: 15 rec., 192 yards, 3 TD, 12.80 yards per reception, 21.33 YPG
  • Thornton: 12 rec., 178 yards, 0 TD, 14.83 yards per reception, 22.25 YPG

Missouri: WRs Luther Burden III, Theo Wease Jr., Mookie Cooper, Marquis Johnson

Missouri stats (9 games):

  • Burden III: 64 rec., 968 yards, 7 TD, 14.97 yards per reception, 106.44 YPG (3rd in SEC in yards and YPG, 7th in FBS in YPG)
  • Wease Jr.: 41 rec., 530 yards, 5 TD, 12.93 yards per reception, 58.89 YPG
  • Cooper: 30 rec., 391 yards, 0 TD, 13.03 yards per reception, 43.44 YPG
  • Johnson: 9 rec., 268 yards, 3 TD, 29.78 yards per reception, 29.78 YPG

Advantage: Missouri

Explanation: One of the biggest storylines entering this game is whether or not Luther Burden III will play. If he’s out, I give the edge to Tennessee here. But we’re talking about one of the premiere wide receivers not only in the SEC but in the nation. The Cook-Burden connection has been a burden for opposing teams, and I expect Burden to have a big day against Tennessee if he goes.

The Tigers sweep the position groups in the passing game.

More From RTI: Squirrel White Was Among the Fastest Players in Week 10 College Football Action
Offensive Line

Tennessee stats (9 games):

  • Joe Milton sacked 13 times (T-4th best in the SEC)
    • Tennessee has given up 15 total sacks as a team (1.67 per game)

Missouri stats (9 games):

  • Brady Cook sacked 16 times (8th best in the SEC)
    • Missouri has given up 16 total sacks as a team (1.78 per game)

Advantage: Tennessee

Explanation: Giving the slight edge to Tennessee here. There’s no major reason as both teams have ran the ball well, both quarterbacks have been able to run the ball well when they’ve done so, and neither quarterback has been on their back a lot this season.

Since Cooper Mays returned over a month ago, Tennessee’s offensive line has been performing at a pretty high level. With the Vols’ unit having slightly better stats than Missouri’s, they get the nod.

Defensive Line

Tennessee stats (9 games):

  • 30 sacks (3rd in SEC & T-9th in FBS)
  • 3.33 sacks per game (3rd in SEC, T-8th in FBS)
  • 74 TFL (2nd in SEC, 6th in FBS)
  • 8.2 TFL per game (2nd in SEC, 5th in FBS)

Missouri stats (9 games):

  • 27 sacks (5th in SEC & T-17th in FBS)
  • 3 sacks per game (5th in SEC, T-16th in FBS)
  • 53.0 TFL (T-9th in SEC, T-64th in FBS)
  • 5.9 TFL per game (T-9th in SEC, T-56th in FBS)

Notable player stats:


  • LEO James Pearce Jr.: 7 sacks, 10 TFL, 13 QB hits, 1 FF
  • DE Tyler Baron: 5 sacks, 8 TFL, 4 QB hits
  • DT Omarr Norman-Lott: 3.5 sacks, 4 TFL


  • DE Darius Robinson: 5.5 sacks, 8.5 TFL, 1 FF
  • DE Johnny Walker Jr.: 4 sacks, 7.5 TFL, 7 QB hits, 2 FF

Advantage: Tennessee

Explanation: Not many SEC teams will have the edge over Tennessee when it comes to the defensive line. The Vols’ pass rush has cooled off a bit in its past couple of games, but it is still an elite group that is in a different tier than Missouri’s.

The Tigers have guys that can force turnovers and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but Missouri’s susceptible run defense when it comes to runs up the middle (Mizzou gives up 5.1 YPC between the tackles (103rd in FBS)) and Tennessee’s overall really good sack numbers give the Vols a clear edge.


Tennessee: Aaron Beasley, Elijah Herring

Tennessee stats (9 games):

  • Herring: 59 tackles (21 solo), 2.5 TFL, 1 QBH
  • Beasley: 51 tackles (28 solo), 2 sacks, 9 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 INT, 1 TD

Missouri: Ty’Ron Hooper, Chuck Hicks

Missouri stats (9 games):

  • Hooper: 53 tackles (36 solo), 6 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 PBU, 6 QBH,
  • Hicks: 28 tackles (16 solo), 5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, 1 QBH

Advantage: Tennessee

Explanation: The Vols get another slight advantage here at linebacker play. The combination of Beasley and Herring hasn’t been incredible this season, but it has been solid and better than the production Missouri has gotten out of their group. Additionally, Missouri has had the misfortune of not having starting linebacker Chad Bailey for the last few weeks, and days ago it was reported that Bailey will miss the rest of the season.


Tennessee stats (9 games):

  • T-54th in FBS in Opp. Passing YPG (222.2)
  • 9 INT (3 pick sixes) (T-5th in SEC)
  • 27 pass deflections (10th in SEC)
  • 11th in FBS in yards per completion (10.15)
  • 38th in FBS in pass efficiency defense

Missouri stats (9 games):

  • 65th in FBS in Opp. Passing YPG (229.1)
  • 7 INT (11th in SEC)
  • 35 pass deflections (3rd in SEC)
  • 36th in FBS in yards per completion (11.09)
  • 78th in FBS in pass efficiency defense

Notable player stats:


Kris Abrams-Draine: 4 INT, 11 PBU (T-2nd in SEC in INT, 1st in SEC in PBUs)

Advantage: Missouri

Explanation: There’s not a lot of top-end talent on either secondary here, so Missouri gets the edge based on the type of year Abrams-Draine is having. Abrams-Draine is second in the SEC in interceptions and first in pass deflections and may be the best player on the entire Missouri defense.

Still, though, I expect both passing games to have relative success in this one.

Special Teams

Tennessee: PR & KR Dee Williams

Tennessee stats (7 games):

  • Williams punt returns: 13 returns, 220 yards, 16.92 AVG, 1 TD, 55 long
  • Williams kick returns: 7 returns, 151 yards, 21.57 AVG, 34 long

Missouri: PR Luther Burden III, Several Kick Returners

Missouri stats (9 games):

  • Burden III punt returns: 6 returns, 80 yards, 10 AVG, 17 long
  • Team kick return stats: 22 returns, 412 yards, 18.73 AVG, 30 long

Tennessee: K Charles Campbell and P Jackson Ross

  • Campbell: 15/17 on FGs (0-2 50+, 3/3 40-49)
  • Ross: 33 punts, 1,432 yards, 43.39 yards per punt, 71 long, 3 touchbacks, 14 inside the 20, 7 punts of 50+

Missouri: K Harrison Mevis, Ps Luke Bauer, Riley Williams

  • Mevis: 15/21 on FGs (3-5 50+, 1/4 40-49, 61-long)
  • Bauer: 18 punts, 770 yards, 42.78 yards per punt, 73 long, 1 touchback, 7 inside the 20, 5 punts of 50+
  • Williams: 12 punts, 483 yards, 40.25 yards per punt, 53 long, 5 inside the 20, 2 punts of 50+

Advantage: Tennessee

Explanation: Dee Williams’ explosiveness sends Tennessee over the edge, and Charles Campbell has been perfect from the 40-yard range. Sure, Mevis had the 61-yard game winner against Kansas State, but he’s mostly struggled from beyond 40 yards.

Additionally, Jackson Ross has punted out of his mind since the early season struggles.

Total Score:

Tennessee: 5

Missouri: 3

Who wins?


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