The Tennessee Volunteers (4-5) will play host to the Missouri Tigers (4-5) in a SEC showdown between two teams in desperate need of a win—particularly a conference win.
Missouri and Tennessee have a combined 1-9 record against SEC opponents, with the one win coming from a Missouri victory over the abysmal 1-9 Kentucky Wildcats.
The Volunteers boast a potent aerial attack that ranks 12th in the nation (323.1 yards per game), but their shaky defense has limited opponents to under 25 points just twice in nine games.
The Missouri Tigers were hoping to inflict damage on the SEC with a dangerous spread offense, but constant injuries to the offensive line has hindered their efforts.
Mizzou's Justin Britt could be done for the year, meaning all starting Tigers OL will miss time this season: sbn.to/UcVbD7— SBN College Football (@SBNationCFB) November 5, 2012
Both teams are virtually irrelevant in the national spotlight, but this showdown between two evenly matched opponents should come down to the wire, adding to the entertainment value.
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
When: Saturday, November 10, 12:21 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN3, SEC Network
Listen: 201 (XM), 135 (Sirius)
Spread: Tennessee -2.5 (Odds Shark)
This is a game with no clear favorite, making the outcome particularly hard to predict.
The game will not be decided by the team with superior talent, as both teams are lacking in that department, but rather the team that gets the most luck with turnovers and big plays.
For that reason, Tennessee has the slight edge due to their homefield advantage.
The homefield crowd will cause problems for the banged-up Missouri offense and force multiple mental errors.
Over/Under: 60 (Odds Shark)
The over/under is set at 60 total points, which is rather generous.
Tennessee scored 35 points against a tough South Carolina defense, so they're capable of contributing their share of points, but Missouri has exceeded 15 points just once in the last four weeks.
If Missouri is limited to a 20-point performance, which is clearly a possibility, does Tennessee have the necessary firepower to cover the other 40 points?
Injury Report (USA Today)
OL Justin Britt (Knee)
OL Jack Meiners (Knee)
WR Wesley Leftwich (Foot)
RB Devrin Young (Concussion)
DL Omari Phillips (Suspension)
Since both teams have been unimpressive, there are no immediate BCS implications that will be determined from the outcome of this games.
Although, a victory could jump start the winning team and eventually put them at the backend of the Top 25, as long as they can win the remaining games on their schedule.
If Missouri pulls off consecutive wins against Tennessee and Syracuse, they'll have a chance to upset Texas A&M in the season finale, which will likely land them in the Top 25.
For Tennessee, a 3-0 finish to the season could earn them a spot in a Bowl game.
To Make a Bowl Game: #Tennessee (3-5, 0-5) (Wins needed: 3) Nov schedule: Troy, Missouri, at Vanderbilt, Kentucky— The SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo) November 1, 2012
If they win the Bowl game, there's a decent chance they'll finish the season as a ranked team.
Players to Watch for Missouri
QB James Franklin
James Franklin was thought of as the heir apparent to Blaine Gabbert—a top-10 NFL draft pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars—but he has been a disappointment in his second year as a starter.
After throwing for 2,865 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2011, Franklin has barely been able to exceed the 1,000-yard barrier this season (1,057), while he has just four touchdown passes and six interceptions.
Mizzou will begin looking for another answer at quarterback in 2013 unless Franklin has an amazing finish.
Keep an eye on Franklin and see how he responds to the pressure.
RB Kendial Lawrence
Tennessee has been absolutely dreadful in run defense as opponent have averaged 205.8 rushing yards per game over the last five weeks.
For this reason, Kendial Lawrence will be a vital part of Missouri's game plan.
Lawrence has been able to rack up 666 yards and eight touchdowns in a Missouri offense that typically relies on the pass, but expect Lawrence to see an increased role this Saturday.
Players to Watch for Tennessee
QB Tyler Bray
Third-year quarterback Tyler Bray has put together a career year in 2012 with 2,812 yards and 25 touchdown passes so far this season.
Bray is coming off a 530-yard performance against Troy last week and will look to carve up the Missouri secondary in a similar way.
If Mizzou cannot create pressure and rattle Bray in the pocket, it could be a long day.
WR Justin Hunter
Justin Hunter—one of the top pro prospects at his position—has been Tyler Bray's favorite target this season and will be a major factor on Saturday.
Hunter had 181 yards and three touchdowns against Troy, making it the third 100-yard game and second three-touchdown game of the season for him.
Mizzou has to find an answer for Hunter in order to limit the Tennessee offense.
Missouri's potent spread offense was supposed to keep them afloat in their debut SEC season, but injuries and superior defenses have prevented that.
However, Tennessee's defense has been a disaster and Missouri is eager to beat them by unleashing the high-octane, Big 12 air ball they've been trying to pull off all season.
But it's not just the offense Tennessee should be worried about.
Last week, the Tigers held the former top-five Florida Gators to only two touchdowns in an impressive defensive performance that ended in a 14-7 loss.
If Mizzou can bring that same defensive game plan to Knoxville, they'll have no problem exiting with a victory.
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