Tennessee’s offense opened up a big lead on Saturday, but after trailing 49-22 with just four minutes to play, Kentucky stormed through the backdoor, cutting the final margin to 49-36 and eeking out a narrow cover of the 14-point spread. It doesn’t get them anything in the standings, but it did improve the records of five of our eight staff pickers. None of us saw the offensive explosion coming, but Joel wins this week’s Closest to the Pin, with a 35-23 prediction that fell just one point off the final margin and 27 points off the final total. This week, Tennessee will look for another offensive explosion as they welcome the Missouri Tigers to Knoxville. Will they get it? On to the picks!
Incipient (8-2 straight up, 5-5 against the spread): Missouri's offense isn't the most threatening in the world, but they aren’t terrible, and the defense that we've seen since College Station is vulnerable to all but the very most inept attacks, so expect the Tigers to reach the high 20s on the scoreboard. Tennessee's admittedly hot-and-cold offense, on the other hand, will be facing a defense that had given up 30+ in five straight games before a 26-17 win over Vanderbilt last week. As difficult as it is to predict Tennessee's offensive output from week to week, the evidence leans towards the Vols making it six times in seven games. Tennessee 38 Missouri 28
Will (7-3 straight up, 6-4 against the spread): The logic here is a little thin (as usual), but it's tempting to think the answer to the, "What in the world happened to our offense?" question after South Carolina is closely tied to the Jalen Hurd situation. The Vols have been unstoppable three times without him in the lineup, and while two of those defenses haven't set the world on fire, neither has Mizzou's. I'm leaning on the side of four for four. Tennessee 41 Missouri 20
Joel (8-2 straight up, 5-5 against the spread): Tennessee 38 Missouri 26
Chris (6-4 straight up, 4-6 against the spread): LSU 24, Florida 13.
Oh, right. Honestly, the only Missouri game I've watched this year was the game they lost to MTSU so while I'm tempted to go with a huge Tennessee romp, I've also seen a bunch of Tennessee games and I know that doesn't happen. So we'll split the difference; Missouri covers but not by much, neither team plays a whole lot of defense. Tennessee 41, Missouri 31
But really, y'all stopped reading after that first score. Don't even lie.
Hunter (7-3 straight up, 3-7 against the spread): Opposite George guided me to a successful pick of Kentucky and the points last week, proving once and for all that my intuition on what the Vols will do from week to week is about as accurate as the pre-election polling. This week, my intuition demands that I take Mizzou and the points-- the Other Other Tigers are secretly explosive on offense and occasionally salty on defense. Barry Odom's debut season hasn't worked out the way that the Rock M Nation faithful would have liked, but Missouri hasn't given up on the season and won't be afraid of Tennessee after winning three out of the last four matchups. If the Vols are sloppy with the football and the Other Other Tigers play anything like they did last year on defense, Tennessee could be in for a long, ugly day of football.
Let's consult Opposite George to make the pick: "I couldn't be more confident! Mizzou is trash, Tennessee is finally getting healthy, and Butch Jones learned his lesson about letting garbage teams hang around in the South Carolina game. Vols by 21!"
So there we have it: Tennessee 34 Missouri 13
Volundore (8-2 straight up, 4-6 against the spread): I don't know if Butch took Kentucky and the points last week, but allowing two garbage touchdowns in the last 7 minutes? That's some sweet, sweet backdoor cover action.
At this point, I just don't really understand why the Vols keep finding themselves so highly favored. Despite Mizzou's victory last week over my other team (which, to be fair, could've been much more emphatic had the Other Other Tigers not missed a FG and fumbled on two separate trips inside the 5), I don't think they're very good. The problem is, I'm not convinced the Vols are very good, either, especially on defense. Drew Lock can throw a deep ball, so Mizzou will score some. It won't be pretty, but the Vols will score more. Tennessee 42 Missouri 31
Justin (8-2 straight up, 2-8 against the spread): This Mizzou team averages 13 points a game on the road. Quarterback Drew Lock has only surpassed the 50% completion threshold in one of his four road games. Meanwhile, the Mizzou defense gave up an average of 40 points during its recent 5-game losing streak, which they snapped against Vandy. The Tigers will have an offensive explosion against the Vols defense putting up 21 points. The only problem is that Lock will not have a memorable trip to Rocky Top, and Dobbs/Kamara/Kelly will run wild, doubling up Mizzou. Tennessee 42 Missouri 21
Trey (7-3 straight up, 3-7 against the spread): Chris stole my joke, so I'll just say that this Missouri team is legit not great. I expect they should be able to run the ball reasonably well against the Tennesee's battered defensive interior, though, so I'm expecting another Kentucky-style quaalude-shootout. We have to cover one of these eventually, right? Geaux Vols. Tennessee 35 Mizzou 17.
Rocky Top Talk Staff Average (8-2 straight up, 4-6 against the spread): Tennessee 39 Missouri 23 (for spread purposes: Tennessee 38.9 Missouri 23.4)
Vegas: Tennessee -16. Over/under 67. Tennessee 41 Missouri 25