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
Whats 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 weeks double-overtime win. That means theres no margin for error for the Tigers.
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 Franklins able to play, hell play.
Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk struggles again. Franklin remains questionable, so its 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 wont be available, leaving freshman Josh Dobbs to make his first start instead. Dobbs brings more a run threat, but hes only played in one game. He was five of 12 for 75 yards last week against Alabama in relief.
2 The strength of Tennessees 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. Tennessees passing attack, which ranks 110th in yards (169.9) and efficiency (107.3), hasnt helped. Tennessee ranks 93rd in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 42.9 percent of the time.
Missouris defensive line vs. Tennessees offensive line: Its 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)
|Aug. 31||Murray State||W, 58-14|
|Sept. 7||Toledo||W, 38-23|
|Sept. 21||at Indiana||W, 45-28|
|Sept. 28||Arkansas State||W, 41-19|
|Oct. 5||at Vanderbilt||W, 51-28|
|Oct. 12||at Georgia||W, 41-26|
|Oct. 19||Florida||W, 36-17|
|Oct. 26||South Carolina||L, 27-24 (2OT)|
|Nov. 9||at Kentucky||11 a.m.|
|Nov. 23||at Mississippi||TBA|
|Nov. 30||Texas A&M||TBA|
TENNESSEE (4-4, 1-3 SEC)
|Aug. 31||Austin Peay||W, 45-0|
|Sept. 7||Western Kentucky||W, 52-20|
|Sept. 14||at Oregon||L, 59-14|
|Sept. 21||at Florida||L, 31-17|
|Sept. 28||South Alabama||W, 31-24|
|Oct. 5||Georgia||L, 34-31 (OT)|
|Oct. 19||South Carolina||W, 23-21|
|Oct. 26||at Alabama||L, 45-10|
|Saturday||at Missouri||6 p.m.|
|Nov. 9||Auburn||11 a.m.|
|Nov. 30||at Kentucky||TBA|
Tod Palmers pick: Missouri 27-17
Tennessee has lost 11 straight Southeastern Conference road games and hasnt 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 isnt on Tenneessees side here. The Tigers dont seem like a team that is sulking after its first loss, so expect a strong bounce back performance.
Tod Palmer, email@example.com