Mizzou football: The Vols are suddenly legit. Can the Tigers take care of business on the road?
This past Saturday, the Tennessee Volunteers did what the Missouri Tigers failed to do: , beat the Kentucky Wildcats at home.
Not only did the Vols defeat the Wildcats, though — they did it in convincing fashion, trouncing their foes 24-7. On the other hand, the Tigers collapsed late in the fourth quarter to lose to Kentucky in utterly heartbreaking style.
This weekend, the Tigers roll into Knoxville looking to pick up win No. 7 on the season — a feat that would match last season’s win total. However, the Vols no longer are an easy victory. No matter what ends up happening Saturday, count on it being a lot closer than last year’s 50-17 Mizzou win.
It is an interesting matchup, though, as Mizzou’s strengths actually seem to stack up well against the Vols. The only major disadvantage the Tigers seem to have is when it comes to coaching, as Jeremy Pruitt has quickly proven that he is more than capable while Barry Odom has a couple of embarrassing collapses on his 2018 resume.
The Vols have only allowed 10 points the past two weeks in wins over Charlotte and Kentucky, but against teams with similar offensive profiles to Mizzou, the Vols have struggled. This is a much better team than it was in Week 1 when the Vols gave up 40 points in a 40-14 loss to West Virginia, but more recent 47-21 and 38-12 losses to Florida and Georgia, respectively, paint a more accurate picture.
The Tigers are just as capable on the ground as they are through the air, as evidenced by Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt, when they put up 253 yards rushing and 253 yards passing. Stats-wise, the Vols are decent against the pass, giving up 205.1 yards per game through the air (No. 6 in the SEC). Against the run, though, they’re much worse, ranking No. 9 in the SEC and allowing 152.7 yards per game.
Therefore, expect a heavy dose of Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree III this weekend — that is, if Mizzou OC Derek Dooley doesn’t try to get too cute in his return to Knoxville. Dooley would be well-served to use QB Drew Lock’s arm as a secondary aspect of the offense. If the Tigers can run the ball well on first and second downs, that could really open up some big plays for WR Emanuel Hall, who continues to look better after returning from a groin injury.
Plus, with TE Albert Okwuegbunam ruled out for this weekend’s game after suffering a shoulder injury at Florida, the Mizzou running game is stronger than the passing attack right now.
Still, don’t be surprised if this one is tight late, as the Tigers have had trouble putting games away in the fourth quarter. Add in the rapid improvement of Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano and this could turn into a high-scoring game quickly.
Vol WRs Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings could have big games, but Mizzou’s rushing attack, coupled with the Tigers’ ability to stop the run, should be the difference in Knoxville on Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Mizzou 37, Tennessee 31
This is going to be another nail-biter for Tigers fans, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to me if it ends up being the fifth Mizzou game that comes down to the last play. However, if the Tigers are going to prove once and for all that this team is better than last year’s squad, this is the type of game that they need to win.
Due to the fact that it’s cupcake week across most of the SEC, this is the SEC on CBS featured game of Week 12. It’ll live up to that billing, with the Tigers earning another hard-fought victory to improve to 7-4 on the season.