The Missouri Tigers play host to the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night in Columbia, Missouri. Both teams enter the game with equivalent 5-5 records, but the Vols enter with 3-3 record in the SEC while Mizzou sits at just 2-4. The teams have taken opposite paths to get to this point of the season.
The Tigers started the season with a 5-1 record and found themselves in the top 25 and aspirations for a SEC Championship appearance. Since then they have lost four in a row with the offense forgetting how to score and Barry Odom’s job is once again being questioned like it has been each of the last two seasons. The Tigers haven’t scored more than 14 points since the Ole Miss game on October 12th and haven’t scored a touchdown since the 3rd quarter against Kentucky back on October 26th. A season that had such high hopes at the beginning has completely fallen off the rails.
The Vols meanwhile got off to a terrible start. Losing four of their first five including an embarrassing loss to Georgia State at home and a loss to BYU that the Vols just found a way to lose and blow outs to Georgia and Florida. Jeremy Pruitt’s job was under fire from Vol fans and things were unraveling. Since then they have knocked off Mississippi State, lost to Alabama (not going to hold that against them) then beat South Carolina, UAB and Kentucky. They are coming into this game with a lot of momentum and still have a chance at a seven win regular season.
The last two times these teams have met the Tigers have absolutely crushed the Vols winning both games 50-17. That was with Drew Lock at the top of his game however and Kelly Bryant is not at the top of his. He has struggled ever since his hamstring injury and it is a major reason why Mizzou has not been able to move the ball along with the highest drop rate in the SEC. The Vols run defense is not very strong and it is imperative for Derek Dooley to run it with Larry Rountree lll and Tyler Badie. Last week against Kentucky the Vols allowed about seven yards a carry between the Wildcat running backs Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke. For the Tennessee defensive unit it will be up to them to do what every other unit has done against Missouri recently. Press the line and make Bryant beat you down the field.
On offense for the Vols Jarrett Guarantano came into the game last week against Kentucky and saved the Vols. He threw the ball eight times after taking over for Brian Maurer and completed seven of them including two third quarter touchdowns that proved to be the difference. He was also able to make some plays with his legs running the ball six times for 30 yards.
Mizzou has struggled against running quarterbacks this season defensively so look for Guarantano to be able to some plays on the ground. The Tiger defense has been able to play well in recent games despite the lack of offense. The defensive line was able to create some pressure on Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. The Tennessee running attack as a whole had issues with the Kentucky defense and the Missouri defense won’t make things much easier.
This is an interesting game for two teams that are trending in opposite directions at this juncture. Expect a low scoring game that will involve a lot of punting. It will be massive for one team to make a play on special teams or on defense and get a touchdown that way or give their respective offenses a short field to get some easy points. At the beginning of the season most had this down as a sure win for Missouri but now...
Prediction: Tennessee 20, Mizzou 14