Game Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: CBSSports.com
Odds: Tennessee opened as a 14.5-point favorite. The line bumped up to 16.5 and 17 points depending on location. Info comes via OddsShark.
- 3-7 record; 1-5 in SEC play
- Ranked 62nd in S&P+
- Offense ranked 45th in S&P+; Defense ranked 77th in S&P+ (Source)
- Top Performers: RB Damarea Crockett; CB Aarion Penton
- 7-3 record; 3-3 in SEC play
- 19th in College Football Playoff poll
- Ranked 31st in S&P+
- Offense ranked 38th in S&P+; Defense ranked 39th in S&P+
- Top Performers: WR Josh Malone; DE Derek Barnett
What to watch for
Malone vs. Penton
As mentioned above, Josh Malone and Aarion Penton are two of the top performers for their respective sides. One would expect that Malone and Penton likely will be battling early and often in a matchup that could be pivotal towards deciding a winner.
The junior wideout for the Vols has been their best receiver by a wide margin, leading the team in targets, catches, yards, touchdowns, yards per reception, yards per target, catch rate, success rate and target rate. Need we say more?
The senior defensive back for Missouri will be sure to make it tough for him to get it going though. Penton has had a fantastic season for an otherwise porous Mizzou defense that finds itself ranked 84th in Passing S&P+ defense. On the year, he has four interceptions and 10 (count ‘em, 1... 2... 3...,) pass breakups. He’s certainly going to go down as one of the best DBs that Malone will have faced this year when it’s all done and dusted, and it will serve as an intriguing matchup on Saturday afternoon in Knoxville.
Run the dang ball, Butch
But while Josh Malone should prove to be a pivotal piece, Tennessee would be wise to run the ball against the Tigers defense early and often. Usually, Missouri has trotted out impressive defenses over the years out as we mentioned, 2016 hasn’t been too kind to them.
To date, Mizzou’s ranked 106th and 104th in Rushing S&P+ defense and Rushing Success Rate.
That does not bode well when facing a Tennessee team that, no matter who’s running the ball, has been effective in doing so. They rank 10th in the country in Rushing S&P+ and 49th in Rushing Success Rate.
If the Vols run the ball effectively, they could give Mizzou fits and have them in for a long, long day.
Spoilin’ the fun
Missouri’s season is a lost cause at this point as the Tigers stand at 3-7 with merely a 1-5 record in conference. That doesn’t mean they can’t play to make others miserable though.
they are likely cognizant of the fact that Tennessee is standing on a tight rope right now as they try to make it back to Atlanta for the first time since 2007. The Vols are 3-3 and if they win out, and if Florida loses their matchup with LSU this weekend, it will be the Volunteers who head to ATL while the Gators are forced to watch from home.
Will Mizzou be able to rack up a second victory in a row, and thus torpedo Tennessee’s dreams of heading south? Hey, stranger things have happened.