Tennessee and Missouri are set to battle this Saturday with different, yet achievable, objectives in mind. The Vols host the Tigers at noon Eastern time on CBS at Neyland Stadium.

Tennessee vs. Missouri preview

This one could get ugly.

No, not because Mizzou is the vastly inferior team. The Tigers have actually nicely stepped in up the last few weeks, especially on defense. Missouri has won 2 of its last 3 and gave No. 24 Kentucky everything it had in a game that was a few questionable calls from being even more interesting. The Tigers may not be Georgia, but they’re also no slouch.

The reason this could get ugly is dependent on how angry Josh Heupel has the Volunteers while running through the T come Saturday. They’ve certainly got some steam to let loose after a bad performance and their first loss of the season to now No. 1 Georgia last Saturday.

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Hendon Hooker and the offensive line were the catalyst of that rough performance, as unusual as that is to hear. Georgia’s front line embarrassed a veteran unit and making Hooker’s life miserable, but he was missing throws he usually makes on his end. A few would-be touchdowns sailed past Jalin Hyatt, Princeton Fant and Bru McCoy.

Don’t expect that to happen again, from either entity. Tennessee’s run game, which is one of the best in the SEC, will be running angry against the Tigers.

Missouri is putting up strong numbers on that side of the ball, as previously mentioned. Defensive coordinator Blake Baker was just signed and extension for good reason — the Tigers are No. 4 in the conference in total defensive yardage allowed this season. They were one of few teams to slow down Georgia’s offense in a game they should have won had the offense decided to show up.

But good defenses just don’t top Tennessee. It has to be playing at an elite level to slow down myriad weapons at receiver, the Heisman candidate under center or either of running backs Jabari Small or Jaylen Wright.

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Missouri has also had real trouble using its skill players effectively this year. Receivers Dominic Lovett and Luther Burden are 2 of the more talented wideouts in the SEC, yet have mediocre numbers as a result of a hapless offense. Head coach Eli Drinkwitz needs to kickstart that offense if the Tigers are to have any hope Saturday.

Tennessee vs. Missouri prediction

It’s hard to imagine Tennessee not winning this by a few touchdowns.

The Vols are built to nuke middle of the pack teams. The Missouri defense has been playing well, but the only unit that has been able to stop Tennessee this season is the best defense in the country in Georgia. Add that to the stakes Tennessee knows are present and this could be a tough time for the Tigers.

Prediction: Tennessee 52, Mizzou 21