University of Missouri

Missouri-Tennessee football preview

Updated: 2013-11-01T01:48:46Z

When/where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia

TV/radio: ESPN; KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)

The series: Missouri leads 1-0

The line: Missouri by 11

What’s at stake

The possibility of an SEC championship game berth. Missouri leads South Carolina by a game in the loss column in the Southeastern Conference East Division standings, but the Gamecocks own the tiebreaker now thanks to last week’s double-overtime win. That means there’s no margin for error for the Tigers.

Cheers if …

Quarterback James Franklin plays. He was having a monster senior season, completing 132 of 195 passes for 1,577 yards with 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions before spraining his throwing shoulder at Georgia. A healthy Franklin, who resumed throwing this week, gives Missouri its best chance to win and coach Gary Pinkel said if Franklin’s able to play, he’ll play.

Jeers if …

Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk struggles again. Franklin remains questionable, so it’s likely that Mauk will get a third consecutive start. He was pretty good against Florida, completing 18 of 36 passes for 295 yards and accounting for two touchdowns. In his second start, Mauk struggled against South Carolina, completing only 10 of 25 passes.

Three things about Tennessee

1 Quarterback Justin Worley had surgery on his right thumb and won’t be available, leaving freshman Josh Dobbs to make his first start instead. Dobbs brings more a run threat, but he’s only played in one game. He was five of 12 for 75 yards last week against Alabama in relief.

2 The strength of Tennessee’s team up the gut, where Daniel McCullers (6 feet 8, 351 pounds) lurks at nose tackle backed up by the Vols’ leading tackler, junior linebacker A.J. Johnson. Johnson has 65 tackles on the season, while he and McCullers both have 4 1/2 tackles for a loss.

3 Third down has been an issue for the Vols, who rank 82nd in the nation converting on third down only 37.7 percent of the time. Tennessee’s passing attack, which ranks 110th in yards (169.9) and efficiency (107.3), hasn’t helped. Tennessee ranks 93rd in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 42.9 percent of the time.

Key matchup

Missouri’s defensive line vs. Tennessee’s offensive line: It’s strength against strength in the trenches when the Vols have the ball, so this is where the game will be decided. If Missouri, which leads the SEC with 25 sacks, can get to Dobbs, it shapes up as a long evening for Tennessee. But the Vols’ offensive line is big, talented and experienced. If Tennessee controls the line of scrimmage and gives Dobbs times, the game will remain close.

MISSOURI (7-1, 3-1 SEC)

Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31Murray StateW, 58-14
Sept. 7ToledoW, 38-23
Sept. 21at IndianaW, 45-28
Sept. 28Arkansas StateW, 41-19
Oct. 5at VanderbiltW, 51-28
Oct. 12at GeorgiaW, 41-26
Oct. 19FloridaW, 36-17
Oct. 26South CarolinaL, 27-24 (2OT)
SaturdayTennessee6 p.m.
Nov. 9at Kentucky11 a.m.
Nov. 23at MississippiTBA
Nov. 30Texas A&MTBA

TENNESSEE (4-4, 1-3 SEC)

Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31Austin PeayW, 45-0
Sept. 7Western KentuckyW, 52-20
Sept. 14at OregonL, 59-14
Sept. 21at FloridaL, 31-17
Sept. 28South AlabamaW, 31-24
Oct. 5GeorgiaL, 34-31 (OT)
Oct. 19South CarolinaW, 23-21
Oct. 26at AlabamaL, 45-10
Saturdayat Missouri6 p.m.
Nov. 9 Auburn11 a.m.
Nov. 23VanderbiltTBA
Nov. 30at KentuckyTBA

MISSOURI OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR15Dorial Green-Beckham6-6225So.
WR2L’Damian Washington6-4205Sr.
LT68Justin Britt6-6315Sr.
LG61Max Copeland6-3300Sr.
C77Evan Boehm6-3315So.
RG60Connor McGovern6-4310So.
RT65Mitch Morse6-6305Jr.
TE81Eric Waters6-5245Sr.
WR85Marcus Lucas6-5220Sr.
QB7Maty Mauk6-0200Fr.
TB6Marcus Murphy5-9195Jr.
K99Andrew Baggett6-1215So.

MISSOURI DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE52Michael Sam6-2255Sr.
DT89Matt Hoch6-5295Jr.
NG96Lucas Vincent6-2305Jr.
DE47Kony Ealy6-5275Jr.
LB10Kentrell Brothers6-1240So.
LB48Andrew Wilson6-3240Sr.
LB8Donovan Bonner6-1245Sr.
CB31E.J. Gaines5-11195Sr.
FS17Matt White6-0195Sr.
SS9Braylon Webb6-0205Jr.
CB7Randy Ponder5-10195Sr.
P92Christian Brinser6-2200Jr.

TENNESSEE OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR8Marquez North6-4215Fr.
LT74Antonio Richardson6-6327Jr.
LG78Alex Bullard6-2302Sr.
C64James Stone6-3291Sr.
RG72Zach Fulton6-5323Sr.
RT70Ju’Wuan James6-6318Sr.
TE85Brendan Downs6-5248Jr.
WR2Pig Howard5-8185So.
WR18Jason Croom6-5223Fr.
QB11Josh Dobbs6-3193Fr.
TB20Rajion Neal5-11212Sr.
K1Michael Palardy5-11185Sr.

TENNESSEE DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE55Jacques Smith6-2243Sr.
DT98Daniel McCullers6-8351Sr.
NG97Daniel Hood6-4277Sr.
DE80Corey Miller6-3265Sr.
LB41Dontavis Sapp602227Sr.
LB45A.J. Johnson6-3243Jr.
LB17Brent Brewer6-1221Sr.
CB27Justin Coleman5-10184So.
SS37Brian Randolph6-0199So.
FS33LaDarrell McNeil6-1199So.
CB23Cameron Sutton6-1180Fr.
P1Michael Palardy5-11185Sr.

Tod Palmer’s pick: Missouri 27-17

Tennessee has lost 11 straight Southeastern Conference road games and hasn’t beaten a ranked team in a true road game in more than seven years. The Vols recently snapped a 19-game skid against ranked teams by beating South Carolina on a last-second field goal, but history certainly isn’t on Tenneessee’s side here. The Tigers don’t seem like a team that is sulking after its first loss, so expect a strong bounce back performance.

Tod Palmer, tpalmer@kcstar.com

Deal Saver Subscribe today!

Comments

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here