Saturday morning the good patrons of Columbia saw their Missouri Tigers get demolished by the Tennessee Volunteers by the tune of 62-24. This was basically a must-win game if either team is trying to make a bowl game. The Vols improved to 3-2 and 1-1 in the SEC while the Tigers fell to 2-3 and 0-2 in the SEC. It was by far the most complete effort the Vols had put together in the Josh Heupel era. Vol fans got a glimpse of what his offense can do, especially against weaker competition.
Looking at the score, the story of the game is obviously the Volunteer offense. Or, if you’re a Tiger fan, that defense. Leading up to the game, Tennessee running back Tiyon Evans mentioned that they had seen tape of the Tiger defense and were going to have some fun. Believe me, much fun was had by all as Evans had 15 carries for 156 yards and three touchdowns. The Volunteers ran for 458 yards and almost eight yards per carry. Their offensive line was just moving guys around. When called upon, Hendon Hooker was very good completing 15 of his 19 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns. The Vols racked up 683 yards of offense compared to just 396 for Mizzou. Much of those 396 yards were well after the game was completely out of hand.
At the end of the first quarter, it was 28-3. While this isn’t a great Volunteer team, Tom Brady isn’t on the other side, so the game was over at this point. Once Evans broke off a 92-yard run that put them up 21-3, everyone watching knew they were in for a show. A show they soon got. The Tigers didn’t force a third down until the first drive of the second quarter. On which, Hooker found Velus Jones Jr. for a 35-yard touchdown pass that made it 35-10. It was just that kind of day. The Vols didn’t even have to use their punter.
For the Tigers, Connor Bazelak threw for 322 yards, most coming when the game was out of reach. For the second consecutive week, he also threw two interceptions. Tyler Badie was held in check, racking up just 41 yards on 21 carries.
Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz is now facing heavy adversity for the first time in Columbia. Yes, the recruiting is better, and losing by one score to Boston College and Kentucky isn’t the end of the world. But that performance was a head-scratcher. Mizzou has one of the worst defenses now in college football. Coordinator Steve Wilks doesn’t seem to have any answers on how to stop the run game. If he did, Tennessee might have had to punt one time. The Tigers, now just to make a bowl game, will have to beat North Texas, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina. They’ll have to do all that while upsetting one of Texas A&M Geor- (lol who I am kidding) Florida or Arkansas.
The Vols will try to take the momentum of this dynamic performance back to Neyland next week when they take on South Carolina. Elsewhere, Mizzou will play host to North Texas.