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Tennessee Volunteers vs. Missouri Tigers: statsy preview

The Vols may struggle against Missouri’s passing game this week, but they should have enough to win the day.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Vols hope for a good day this Saturday as they host the Missouri Tigers at Neyland Stadium and the Florida Gators visit LSU in Death Valley. An LSU win coupled with a Vols win puts Tennessee back in the driver's seat in the SEC East.

Here are the keys to a Vols' victory this weekend.

Lean on the run, but use their advantage in balance. Do you remember last week when we pointed out that Kentucky ranked as the worst rushing defense that Tennessee had played this season? It was true. This week, though, the Missouri Tigers one-up them. As bad as the Wildcats are against the run, the Tigers are even worse. So expect Josh Dobbs, Alvin Kamara, and John Kelly to have another good day running the ball. Will they best their 376 rushing yards from last week? Maybe!

And do you remember last week when we said that Kentucky was also not especially good at defending the pass? That was true, too, and it is also true of Missouri's pass defense, which is somewhere between Texas A&M's and Kentucky's. The Vols put up only 223 passing yards against Kentucky last week, but that was largely because the running game was in the end zone before it was time to pass. Expect something similar again this week, with Tennessee having a great day on the ground and a good day through the air.

Commit to limiting the Tigers' passing yards. Do you remember last week when we said that Kentucky could have a good day running the ball against Tennessee but would probably struggle in the passing game? True! And a mirror image of that is probably true this week against Missouri, which has the best passing attack we've seen all year but not much to complement it on the ground. To be fair, it appears that the Tigers aren't quite as one-dimensional as the Wildcats are, but there is definitely more danger in one facet of the game compared to the other. Expect Tennessee to run a lot of nickel and to lean on Cam Sutton and the secondary to do what they can to limit big passing plays. Also expect them to give up a bunch of them anyway. The only real trouble is if the Tigers also start having success running the ball. If that happens, it will be a shootout, and we'll just have to hope the Vols' offense can score more points than the Tigers.

Focus. Again with the focus. We've actually seen the team play two complete games in a row now. But things sometimes break right when you put your attention somewhere else because you think they're fixed. So the guys need to make sure they're focused from start to finish again this week. Focus could be a real challenge as fans (and maybe even players) keep one eye on the LSU-Florida score, and if that result isn't what everyone wants, things could go sideways in a hurry.

But I think the team will be focused, that the offense will be humming again, and that defense will be able to do just enough to keep things mostly comfortable.

Tennessee 38, Missouri 26.


The tables for this week are below. But as always, a quick note on strength of schedule first. The Vols still hold the nation's most-difficult schedule, while Missouri's is ranked 34th. Here's a handy look at the relative strength of schedules. Wins are in green, losses are in yellow.

Vols Tigers
1 (Alabama: L; 49-10) 6 (LSU: L; 42-7)
17 (Florida: W; 38-28) 17 (Florida: L; 40-14)
21 (Texas A&M: L; 45-38)
25 (App State: W; 20-13)
28 (Virginia Tech: W; 45-24)
29 (West Virginia: L; 26-11)
65 (Georgia: W; 34-31) 65 (Georgia: L; 28-27)
73 (Eastern Michigan: W; 61-21)
74 (MTSU: L; 51-45)
75 (Kentucky: W; 49-36) 75 (Kentucky: L; 35-21)
82 (Ohio: W; 28-19)
90 (South Carolina: L; 24-21) 90 (South Carolina: L; 31-21)
95 (Vanderbilt: W; 26-17)

Processing Tennessee vs. Missouri.

Tennessee Missouri Comps Result against Comps Guess
Next Worst Next Best Next Worst Next Best
Team Team Team Team
Value Value
Tennessee rushing offense vs. Missouri rushing defense 187.6 225.3 None Kentucky None Kentucky 360
None 216.3 None 376
Tennessee passing offense vs. Missouri passing defense 224.6 239.1 Texas A&M Kentucky Texas A&M Kentucky 240
252.7 226.6 402 223
Tennessee rushing defense vs. Missouri rushing offense 216.8 191.0 Virginia Tech Ohio Virginia Tech Ohio 180
186.1 195.6 186 88
Tennessee passing defense vs. Missouri passing offense 200.0 295.7 Virginia Tech None Virginia Tech None 300
257.6 None 208 None
Tennessee scoring offense vs. Missouri scoring defense 33.8 29.1 Kentucky Georgia Kentucky Georgia 40
32.3 24.0 49 34
Tennessee scoring defense vs. Missouri scoring offense 26.9 31.2 Ohio Virginia Tech Ohio Virginia Tech 21
29.3 33.4 19 24

Processing Missouri vs. Tennessee.

Missouri Tennessee Comps Result against Comps Guess
Next Worst Next Best Next Worst Next Best
Team Team Team Team
Value Value
Missouri rushing offense vs. Tennessee rushing defense 191.0 216.8 Delaware State Kentucky Delaware State Kentucky 180
268.0 216.3 268 157
Missouri passing offense vs. Tennessee passing defense 295.7 200.0 Kentucky LSU Kentucky LSU 220
226.6 198.3 229 188
Missouri rushing defense vs. Tennessee rushing offense 225.3 187.6 Georgia West Virginia Georgia West Virginia 190
174.0 211.4 101 241
Missouri passing defense vs. Tennessee passing offense 239.1 224.6 South Carolina Florida South Carolina Florida 240
210.8 225.4 254 236
Missouri scoring offense vs. Tennessee scoring defense 31.2 26.9 Eastern Michigan Georgia Eastern Michigan Georgia 30
31.2 24.0 61 27
Missouri scoring defense vs. Tennessee scoring offense 29.1 33.8 West Virginia Middle Tennessee West Virginia Middle Tennessee 35
32.2 36.6 26 51

So . . .

Tennessee 280 rushing yards, 240 passing yards, 38 points.

Missouri 180 rushing yards, 260 passing yards, 26 points.