Tennessee vs. Missouri: 10 bold predictions
Tennessee’s win over Kentucky did several things. It ignited a fan base. It showed improvement. It moved the Vols within one victory of securing a bowl bid. However, it probably got Missouri’s attention.
So much for sneaking up on the Tigers. With two wins over ranked teams this season, the Vols shouldn’t be overlooked. They won’t.
Here are 10 bold predictions about Missouri at Tennessee:
Jarrett Guarantano will have a clean jersey because he won’t get sacked and barely hit
This would have seemed an absurd statement earlier in the season. However, in case you haven’t been watching, UT’s offense has gotten much better in pass protection. Moreover, Missouri is 11th in the SEC in sacking quarterbacks. Therefore …
Guarantano will complete 75 percent of his passes
Remember, Guarantano is just a sophomore. He has had some growing pains, but he’s now outgrowing them. UT’s quarterback situation looks pretty solid for the foreseeable future with Guarantano at the helm. That certainly wasn’t the case earlier this season. So …
Guarantano will throw for 300 or more yards
Missouri is 13th in pass defense. This could be one of the best games of Guarantano’s young career. The Tigers allow 276 yards passing per game. With UT’s receivers, Guarantano should be able to top that total. He’s only topped 300 once — a career-high 328 yards vs. Auburn.
Darrell Taylor will have multiple sacks
Why not? The Tennessee defensive end had 4 last week against Kentucky. Let’s say Taylor will have 2 sacks Saturday. That would still be quite an accomplishment considering Missouri is the second-best in the SEC in protecting its quarterback. The Tigers give up just 1.2 sacks per game, so Taylor will have his work cut out for him.
Missouri quarterback Drew Lock will throw for over 300 yards
The Vols aren’t bad in pass defense, but they aren’t great. UT is sixth-best in the SEC as it has allowed 205 passing yards per game. It’s hard not to imagine Lock having a strong day against the Vols considering many believe he’s one of the top quarterbacks in next year’s NFL Draft. He threw for 320 against the Vols in 2016 but just needed 217 in the Tigers’ blowout victory last year.
Lock will throw for 4 touchdowns
That would match his total from last season against Tennessee, when Mizzou hung 50 on the Vols.
Yes, it could be that sort of day for UT’s secondary. Coming off an emotional win, it’s easy to see a let down against an explosive offense. And stopping Missouri’s passing game will be nothing like stopping Kentucky’s air attack, which is mostly inept.
The breaks will go Missouri’s way
Whether it’s turnovers or penalties, look for the Tigers to get some breaks against the Vols. Why? That’s just the way football works. Missouri has lost games this season in weird ways. Karma will be on their side Saturday even though the game is at Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee fans will cheer Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley
I know this won’t really happen but it should. Having Dooley on the opposite team is a sign that UT’s program is on the right track.
Missouri will win … and put Vols’ bowl bid at stake
The Tigers’ offense is too good to totally keep in check. And there is no way UT should be expected to play like it did last week. The game will be exciting and fun to watch, but Missouri wins 33-30.
The Vols will have to end a 2-game losing streak against Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale to lock up their 6th win and bowl eligibility.