2:30 p.m. CT Saturday
Series: Missouri leads 3-1
Last meeting: Tennessee 19-8 (Nov. 21, 2015 at Missouri)
Spread: Missouri +17
The Vols’ OL shuffle continues (premium)
Missouri snapped a five-game losing streak and 11-game losing streak in Southeastern Conference games with its 26-17 win over visiting Vanderbilt last week.
The Tigers have allowed at least 409 yards of total offense in nine of their 10 games — they are 2-7 in those games — and have allowed 523 or more total yards in four games. Tennessee racked up 599 total yards in its 49-36 win against visiting Kentucky last week.
Since allowing 377 rushing yards against Kentucky, with an average of 6.4 yards per rush, Missouri has been better against the run the past two weeks. The Tigers limited South Carolina to 174 yards rushing, at 3.6 yards per, and then held Vanderbilt to 159 yards rushing at 3.7 per attempt. Tennessee is averaging 187.6 yards per game on the ground but had a season-high 376 rushing yards in last week’s win.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Missouri QB Drew Lock
Lock is coming off one of the best games of his sophomore season. Against Vanderbilt, Lock completed 22 of 37 passes for 294 yards with two touchdowns. He has seven touchdown passes against two interceptions over the past four games.
Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs
Dobbs, a senior, is coming off arguably his best game of the season in the 49-36 win over Kentucky. The quarterback completed 11 of 17 passes for 223 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception, and ran 14 times for 147 yards and two scores. For the season, Dobbs has accounted for 29 touchdowns (21 passing, seven rushing, one receiving).
Missouri RB Damarea Crockett
The Tigers’ freshman running back has 837 yards rushing and nine touchdowns this season. He had 137 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries over the losses to Kentucky and South Carolina but then gained 154 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in last week’s win over Vanderbilt.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Howell, Missouri’s 6-foot-8, 320-pound junior left tackle, has helped solidify the Tigers’ offensive line this season after transferring from Butler Community College last offseason but he’ll face arguably his toughest challenge of the season this week.
Barnett, a 6-3, 265-pound junior defensive end, has 10 sacks this season — he had 10 in each of his first two seasons — to go along with 16 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, two pass break-ups and one interception. He has four sacks over his last three games.
If Howell can help neutralize Barnett, and the Tigers might have to be creative in how they deal with the defensive end, the offense has a much better chance of getting something going against a Volunteers defense that is allowing 417.4 yards per game this season.
KEYS TO THE GAME
• Containing Joshua Dobbs
The Tigers haven’t seen a dual-threat quarterback like Dobbs this season. The closest comparison may be Middle Tennessee’s Brent Stockstill, who gave the Tigers fits with his arm and legs as he threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 70 yards in the Blue Raiders’ win at Missouri.
• D-Line Zou
Missouri’s defensive line made a difference in last week’s win over Vanderbilt with six sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. Redshirt junior defensive end Charles Harris, the SEC’s defensive lineman of the week, has been dominant the past two weeks with 17 tackles (5.5 for loss), 4.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.
• Missouri’s kicking situation
Who will kick for the Tigers this week? Missouri has used three kickers at different times this season — freshman Tucker McCann and junior walk-ons Turner Adams and Ben Tesson — but haven’t found any consistency. McCann missed two point-after kicks and a field goal attempt against Vandy, which opened the door for Tesson to kick (and make) a late PAT. As a team the Tigers are 5 for 12 (41.7 percent) on field goals this season, with McCann making five of his 11 attempts.
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