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Tennessee Football Opponent Preview: Missouri Tigers

Tennessee has a chance to win its sixth game and clinch a bowl berth in Neyland Stadium.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee’s 2018 ex-coaches tour will make its second stop in Neyland Stadium this season when former Vols coach Derek Dooley returns to Knoxville in his first year as Missouri’s offensive coordinator.

Tennessee welcomes the Tigers to town after soundly defeating then-No. 11 Kentucky 24-7 last Saturday. The win was Tennessee’s second over a ranked opponent this season, making Jeremy Pruitt just the third head coach in Tennessee history to defeat two ranked teams in his first season, joining Phillip Fulmer and Bill Battle.

After its big win against Auburn, Tennessee didn’t have a chance to build any momentum, as its next contest came against No. 1 Alabama. However, this time, Tennessee has momentum heading into a very winnable game at home with bowl eligibility on the line.

Overview

Missouri’s 6-4 record is quite deceptive. The Tigers have a good football team, but had some pretty bad luck in the middle of the season.

After starting the season 3-0, Missouri lost 43-29 to No. 2 Georgia, turning the ball over three times and with the officials giving some help to the Bulldogs. The Tigers then traveled to South Carolina, where they had a 17-7 lead before a monsoon started and precipitated a Gamecocks comeback. Missouri then played No. 1 Alabama on the road and we all know how that goes.

The Tigers’ fourth loss came to No. 12 Kentucky on a touchdown pass as time expired after a questionable pass interference call, without which the game would have ended. So though Missouri’s record says 6-4, it is a pretty good football team whose Tennessee-like luck in 2018 has resulted in some mediocre results.

Last Week

Missouri edged past Vanderbilt at home last week, defeating the Commodores 33-28. The Commodores went up 21-10 in the second quarter before Drew Lock and Co. outscored Vanderbilt 20-7 in the second half to pull out the win.

Lock finished the game completing 22 of 33 pass attempts for 253 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Damarea Crockett led the Tigers in rushing with 122 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

Impact Players

QB Drew Lock — Lock hasn’t had quite the season he had in 2017 when he led the country with 44 passing touchdowns, but he’s still a dual-threat weapon for the Tigers under center. Lock has thrown for 2,647 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions so far in 2018.

RB Larry Roundtree III — One half of the two-headed monster in the Missouri backfield, Roundtree leads the Tigers in rushing with 758 yards and nine touchdowns on 143 carries.

RB Damarea Crockett — Crockett is the other half of Missouri’s balanced rushing attack, rushing for 699 yards and seven touchdowns on 144 carries this season.

LB Cale GarrettGarrett is a bright spot on a pretty pedestrian defense. He has 86 total tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss, a year after leading Missouri with 99 tackles and 10 tackles for loss.

Game Outlook

Tennessee has a chance to clinch its sixth win on senior day at home a week after defeating the No. 11 team in the country. While six wins wasn’t an outlandish prediction at the beginning of the season, it could have been construed as such after the Florida game. Jeremy Pruitt’s job in his first year can not be understated.

Tennessee has a great chance to build some serious momentum heading into its final game against Vanderbilt and hopefully towards its bowl game and the 2019 season. Much like against Kentucky, expect Pruitt and the Tennessee coaching staff to take away what Missouri does best offensively and make it one-dimensional.