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Tennessee vs Missouri: Five Bold Predictions

The Vols are in desperate need of a win against the Tigers if they want to make it to a bowl game this year.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Tennessee
Tennessee will need big plays from Jonathan Kongbo on Saturday night.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

In case you weren't aware, college football is one of the most unpredictable sports in the country.

Even though the Vols have struggled worse than Charlie Sheen in Amsterdam throughout the 2017 season, up until recently there was a quiet confidence that Tennessee would beat Missouri.

The Tigers got off to a 1-5 start, but have rattled off three straight wins - including a 45-16 beatdown of Florida last week.

As a result, Missouri is now a double-digit favorite to beat the Vols and both teams look like they are on completely different paths to end their respective seasons.

Tennessee has to overcome injuries, an unknown quarterback situation, and a plethora of other issues in order to pull off the upset this weekend. Who knows how that will shake out in the long run, but in the meantime, here are five bold predictions for this weekend's game.

1. The Turnover Streak Will End

Despite the struggles on defense throughout much of the season, Bob Shoop's unit has found a way to record multiple turnovers the past three weeks. However, due to Missouri's great balance on offense, I believe that ends this weekend.

Mizzou averages close to 500 yards a game on offense. They have ran 598 total plays on offense this season, resulting in an even 1:1 run/pass ratio at exactly 299 plays called for each dimension of the offense.

Drew Lock is one of the better signal-callers in the country and he is showing that this season. He leads the entire nation with 31 touchdowns and leads the SEC in total pass yards and pass completions.

NCAA Football: Florida at Missouri
Drew Lock is one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

But that's not all for the Tigers. They average a decent 169 rush yards per game, but it is a very effective attack and one that yields around 5.1 yards per carry.

Even though the Vols have the top-ranked pass defense in the SEC, this offensive balance will keep the Vols from recording a single turnover for the entire game, which will ultimately spell disaster in the end.

2. The Tigers Will Record A Minimum Of Four Sacks

Missouri is in the upper half of the conference with 22 sacks on the season so far. Despite the Vols having just three less sacks on the year, I feel like Missouri is going to have a far more productive day in the defensive trenches.

The Tigers have recorded four games with at least three sacks and 11 sacks over their last three games. On the other hand, the Vols have not been as near as consistent when it comes to rushing the passer. They have recorded more than two sacks in a game just twice this season and those games were against far less talented UMass and Southern Miss teams.

Also, add in the fact that Tennessee could be without Brett Kendrick, Drew Richmond, Marquez Callaway, and Jarrett Guarantano. Callaway is by far and away UT's best receiver and Guarantano can help make up for the absence of Kendrick and Richmond with his legs.

All this boils down to the fact that Tennessee is on the road against a good front seven with a battered offensive line and little-to-no playmakers on offense.

As Everett in O Brother, Where Art Thou? would say, "Damn, we're in a tight spot!".

3. Ty Chandler Will Lead The Team In Receptions And Receiving Yards

As mentioned earlier, the Vols will most likely be without top wideout Marquez Callaway due to an injured ankle. This leaves UT with very, very few options in the passing game.

Fortunately, freshman running back Ty Chandler has some of the best hands - and talent - on the team. Look for the Vols to use him in a variety of ways in order to help get the offense on track early.

I'd personally like to see him motion out of a two-man backfield with Kelly and line up in the slot, while leaving Kelly in the backfield. This could potentially create all kinds of mismatches with Chandler in the slot, a bigger receiver like Jeff George on the outside, and the lingering threat of just handing off to Kelly in the backfield.

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Tennessee
Ty Chandler will have a big role in Columbia.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

While Mizzou's front seven is tough, their defense as an overall unit leaves much to be desired. Even with all of the injuries on offense, Chandler should be able to find adequate room on Saturday to make plays.

4. Tennessee Will Be Perfect In The Kicking Game

Oh, trust me, I know how crazy this sounds.

Believe it or not, this has been done already a few times this season. Albeit the field goal attempts were minimal, but it's been done.

However, this prediction entails multiple field goals and extra points attempted and all of them made - no matter the distance.

I wouldn't take this prediction within three state lines of Las Vegas, but this is a bold predictions post, ain't it?!

And who knows, a few extra made field goals could give the Vols their first SEC victory of the season and keep them in the hunt for a bowl game.

5. The Vols Will Hold Drew Lock To Under 250 Yards Passing

Lock averages over 300 passing yards a game this season, so keeping him under 250 would be a big victory for Tennessee.

The Vols have one of the better pass defenses in the country and that will be tested heavily come Saturday. I think the Vols will pass the test, but only by default.

It appears as if Mizzou will come out and try to take advantage of a less-than-stellar front seven of the Vols and try to run the ball early and often. This will obviously set up some big chances for Lock to go deep on play-action, but I get the feeling that Shoop will have something in store for Lock.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama
Rashaan Gaulden has been UT's best player on defense this year.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Vols haven't had a consistent push up front all season in order to warrant any kind of improvement against a decent rushing attack. Mizzou isn't stellar on the ground, but they have recently found running lanes and have been able to compliment the passing attack.

It seems to be a pick-your-poison scenario for the Vols, but if they can keep Lock under control, then Tennessee could creep out of Columbia with a victory.