Missouri-Tennessee football preview

10/31/2013 5:30 PM

10/31/2013 8:48 PM

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. 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)
Saturday Tennessee 6 p.m.
Nov. 9 at Kentucky 11 a.m.
Nov. 23 at Mississippi TBA
Nov. 30 Texas A TBA

TENNESSEE (4-4, 1-3 SEC)
Date Opponent Result/time
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. 23 Vanderbilt TBA
Nov. 30 at Kentucky TBA

MISSOURI OFFENSE
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR 15 Dorial Green-Beckham 6-6 225 So.
WR 2 L’Damian Washington 6-4 205 Sr.
LT 68 Justin Britt 6-6 315 Sr.
LG 61 Max Copeland 6-3 300 Sr.
C 77 Evan Boehm 6-3 315 So.
RG 60 Connor McGovern 6-4 310 So.
RT 65 Mitch Morse 6-6 305 Jr.
TE 81 Eric Waters 6-5 245 Sr.
WR 85 Marcus Lucas 6-5 220 Sr.
QB 7 Maty Mauk 6-0 200 Fr.
TB 6 Marcus Murphy 5-9 195 Jr.
K 99 Andrew Baggett 6-1 215 So.

MISSOURI DEFENSE
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE 52 Michael Sam 6-2 255 Sr.
DT 89 Matt Hoch 6-5 295 Jr.
NG 96 Lucas Vincent 6-2 305 Jr.
DE 47 Kony Ealy 6-5 275 Jr.
LB 10 Kentrell Brothers 6-1 240 So.
LB 48 Andrew Wilson 6-3 240 Sr.
LB 8 Donovan Bonner 6-1 245 Sr.
CB 31 E.J. Gaines 5-11 195 Sr.
FS 17 Matt White 6-0 195 Sr.
SS 9 Braylon Webb 6-0 205 Jr.
CB 7 Randy Ponder 5-10 195 Sr.
P 92 Christian Brinser 6-2 200 Jr.

TENNESSEE OFFENSE
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR 8 Marquez North 6-4 215 Fr.
LT 74 Antonio Richardson 6-6 327 Jr.
LG 78 Alex Bullard 6-2 302 Sr.
C 64 James Stone 6-3 291 Sr.
RG 72 Zach Fulton 6-5 323 Sr.
RT 70 Ju’Wuan James 6-6 318 Sr.
TE 85 Brendan Downs 6-5 248 Jr.
WR 2 Pig Howard 5-8 185 So.
WR 18 Jason Croom 6-5 223 Fr.
QB 11 Josh Dobbs 6-3 193 Fr.
TB 20 Rajion Neal 5-11 212 Sr.
K 1 Michael Palardy 5-11 185 Sr.

TENNESSEE DEFENSE
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE 55 Jacques Smith 6-2 243 Sr.
DT 98 Daniel McCullers 6-8 351 Sr.
NG 97 Daniel Hood 6-4 277 Sr.
DE 80 Corey Miller 6-3 265 Sr.
LB 41 Dontavis Sapp 602 227 Sr.
LB 45 A.J. Johnson 6-3 243 Jr.
LB 17 Brent Brewer 6-1 221 Sr.
CB 27 Justin Coleman 5-10 184 So.
SS 37 Brian Randolph 6-0 199 So.
FS 33 LaDarrell McNeil 6-1 199 So.
CB 23 Cameron Sutton 6-1 180 Fr.
P 1 Michael Palardy 5-11 185 Sr.
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

Videos

Join the Discussion

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.

Terms of Service