The Fearless Prediction did not enjoy the Tennessee-Georgia game. But the good news is that a new week brings a new opportunity for success, so let’s get after it.

On Saturday, it’ll be Senior Day as Tennessee hosts Missouri. This is a relatively new series, as the Vols and Tigers have played only 10 times, with each team winning 5.

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There have been some dark moments for the Vols against Mizzou. In 2012, Tennessee QB Tyler Bray was caught on camera giving then-head coach Derek Dooley a death stare when Dooley chose to play for overtime instead of trying to move the football. The Vols would go on to lose that game, and Dooley was fired a couple of weeks later. In 2017, the Vols were torched 50-17, and Butch Jones was fired the next day.

But more recently, this series has turned in Tennessee’s favor. The Vols have beaten the Tigers 3 straight times, including a 62-24 pounding last season in Columbia.

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker is coming off a rough outing against Georgia, as he failed to throw for 200 yards or toss a TD pass. Hooker was also sacked 6 times and was under pressure throughout the day. Saturday presents a bounceback opportunity.

Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt did combine for 13 catches against the Bulldogs, but for only 10 yards per reception. The big play that has been the trademark of the 2022 Volunteers was severely lacking. Will the Vols go after Missouri’s pass defense? It isn’t too shabby, allowing fewer than 200 yards per game, good enough to be ranked 26th in the country.

If Tennessee decides to push the rushing attack with Hooker, Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small, that might be easier said than done as well. Mizzou is ranked 20th in the nation in rushing yards per game allowed at 111.2.

Statistically, this will be one of the top defenses that Tennessee will play all season. LB Ty’Ron Hopper leads the Tigers with 52 tackles, 12 for a loss.

Mizzou’s offense won’t strike fear into many defenses. It is ranked 99th in the nation with only 350 yards per game. QB Brady Cook throws for fewer than 200 yards per game and has more INTs (7) than TD passes (6). Dominic Lovett is his top receiver but catches only 5 footballs per game.

The Tigers don’t move the football on the ground very much, either, with Cody Schrader leading the way at only 56 rushing yards per game.

Tennessee’s defense isn’t great, but it hasn’t had to be very much this season. Currently ranked 81st in the country, it would love to see the Tigers test it against the run. The Vols allow only 97 rushing yards per game, 9th best in the nation.

The Vols no longer have their postseason destiny in their own hands. The loss to Georgia took away pretty much all hopes of a trip to the SEC title game. They’ll likely need a little help if they are to be 1 of the 4 teams picked for the College Football Playoff.

What they can control is winning 3 extremely winnable games to finish the regular season, and that starts this weekend.

As mentioned earlier, this will be the final game that Tennessee’s seniors play at Neyland Stadium. Players like Tillman, Trevon Flowers, LaTrell Bumphus and Princeton Fant could have bolted after the firing of Jeremy Pruitt. More than 30 former Vols did just that, but some chose to stick around. This senior class will be remembered very fondly by UT fans, and they’ll have 1 last chance to show it how much they value its contributions.

With all those emotions, and so much still at stake for this team, I can’t imagine those seniors walking off Shields-Watkins Field for the last time with a loss.

Fearless Prediction time…

Tennessee 48, Missouri 24