Three weeks ago, it was Missouri that appeared to be in disarray, but perspective is everything. Suddenly, the Tigers’ situation seems far more suitable than the parade of struggling programs coming to town that includes Tennessee, which visits for an SEC East matchup on Saturday.
After sitting at 1-5 following a five-game losing streak, Missouri has reeled off three straight blowout wins – including a 45-16 rout of Florida last week – and has a favorable remaining schedule in order to run the table. The Tigers’ once-punchless offense is back in sync and has put up 165 points during the three consecutive wins. “That’s so important when you get into the month of November that you get an opportunity to hit your stride,” Missouri coach Barry Odom told reporters. “And we’re getting close. We’re improving in a lot of different areas, and they’re playing with confidence.” The Volunteers have no such luxury, although they did snap a four-game skid with a 24-10 win over Southern Miss last week.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Missouri -11
ABOUT TENNESSEE (4-5, 0-5 SEC): The Volunteers totaled 16 points in consecutive losses to Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama, but the offense has bounced back somewhat the last two weeks. Freshman quarterback Will McBride made his debut in the second half last week and led two touchdown drives despite completing just 1-of-8 passes, and coach Butch Jones told reporters it will be a game-time decision whether he or redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano (ankle) starts Saturday. Tennessee ranks fourth in the nation and leads the conference in passing defense, holding opponents to 150 yards per game through the air, but will be tested against the SEC’s No. 2 passing offense.
ABOUT MISSOURI (4-5, 1-4): Tigers quarterback Drew Lock leads the nation with 31 touchdown passes and has thrown for 1,896 yards with 23 TDs and four interceptions over his last six games. Lock didn’t have to do much against the Gators, as the Tigers rolled up 227 rushing yards and ran the ball a season-high 46 times. The defense, which struggled terribly early in the season, has been excellent during the winning streak, but Missouri has forced only nine turnovers all season and is minus-9 in turnover margin.
1. Missouri’s defense has made 29 tackles for loss during its three-game winning streak after posting 27 in its previous five games.
2. Tennessee RB John Kelly is one of four players in the nation to lead his team in rushing yards (694) and receptions (27), and he ranks second in the SEC in scrimmage yards per game (118).
3. Missouri TE Albert Okwuegbunam leads the nation in touchdown receptions by a tight end (seven) despite making only 15 catches all season.
PREDICTION: Missouri 37, Tennessee 27