Tennessee Volunteers vs. Missouri Tigers: Complete Game Preview
The Tennessee Volunteers are hungry for their first SEC win since the overtime thriller against Vanderbilt University one year ago. They'll have a comparable opponent in the Missouri Tigers, whose first year in the SEC has been a baptism by fire.
Tennessee (4-5) nearly suffered a shocking upset last week when the University of Troy took the Vols to the brink with a 55-48 barn-burner. Neyland Stadium was grossly under capacity, something that needs to change with two remaining home games this year.
The Missouri Tigers (4-5) can claim a 23-point over the University of Kentucky as their only in-conference win this year. Otherwise, they've fared the same as Tennessee against the likes of the University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of South Carolina and the University of Alabama. They gave Florida a scare last week, but that's it.
This game features a match-up of similar teams both in talent and record. I expect it to be a great one.
When: Saturday, November 10
Where: Neyland Stadium - Knoxville, TN
Time: 12:21 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network, ESPN3
Weather: Sunny with a high of 67 degrees and low of 43 degrees
Visiting Team: Missouri Tigers
The Missouri Tigers have had a rude awakening their first year in the SEC. After six consecutive seasons of eight wins or more, Mizzou needs to win their remaining three games plus a bowl to make it seven consecutive.
Welcome to the SEC!
It's no coincidence that Missouri's best game of the year came last week when quarterback James Franklin was finally "pretty close to a hundred (percent)." His mobility is dangerous and is likely to cause problems for the University of Tennessee's already beleaguered defense.
The Tigers are 1-2 on the road this year, both losses coming to SEC East teams. They averaged 295 offensive yards in those two losses, which must be boosted by at least 100 more if Missouri hopes to keep up with the Volunteer offense.
Missouri's defense allows 22.6 points per game, good for 38th in the country. Compared to Tennessee's 38.2, which is ranked 111th, the Tigers have the clear advantage.
They will, however, need to throw some new looks at the Vols, who have already seen the 1st, 3rd, 17th, 24th and 25th-ranked defenses.
Home Team: Tennessee Volunteers
After escaping with their lives on Homecoming last week, the Tennessee Volunteers are looking to secure their first SEC win of the 2012 season.
It's no secret that the future of Tennessee football is in question, but the Vols have a great chance to delay those concerns at least one more week.
This team has played to the level of its opponents (except the University of Alabama) the entire year. The game was tied at half against Akron and still in jeopardy with nine minutes left. Last week's bout with the University of Troy nearly ended in disaster, but the Volunteers pulled it off.
At the same time, Tennessee had serious chances to beat the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, Mississippi State University and the University of South Carolina. I'm not making excuses. I'm just pointing out that the Vols tend to mirror their foe's play.
Tyler Bray set records last week by bombing it to Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane have improved each and every week under Jay Graham. The offensive line is one of the best in the conference.
Unfortunately, that's just one side of the ball. Tennessee needs its defense to get its act together this Saturday afternoon.
Las Vegas Says...
The University of Tennessee is currently a 3.5-point favorite hosting the University of Missouri this week.
Playing on the road is always difficult in the SEC, and while Neyland Stadium was embarrassingly empty last week, I have a feeling the Vol Nation is going to come out strong for this game, giving Tennessee solid home field advantage.
The Vols need the defense to force just a couple stops, even force a turnover or two to guarantee a Tennessee victory. If not, this game will go down to the wire.
The over/under is 60 points. I fully expect Tennessee to score at least in the mid-30s, so unless you think Sal Sunseri's defense is going its opponent to under 26 points for the first time in two months, this looks like an easy over.
This looks like a great chance for the Tennessee Volunteers to get their first SEC win of the season. The performances of both Tennessee and Missouri last week were mirages, the Volunteers' unusually bad and the Tigers' unusually good.
The Missouri defense ranks below average in the conference, and while Tennessee's can hardly boast a strong defense of its own, the Vols' scoring prowess is undeniably the strongest force in this game.
James Franklin will cause problems with his mobility, but after giving up more than 700 yards last week, it's hard to see Tennessee finding a way to turn in a worse performance on Saturday.
I think game will have a similar feel to the opening weekend versus North Carolina State University.
Tennessee 40 - Missouri 30