Read more about the Tennessee, Missouri game
- Wiedmer: Vols needed better defense to make SEC title game
- Tennessee winning in spite of its futile defense
- Josh Dobbs spectacular in last home game of his Vols career
- Vols blocked from SEC title game but outscore Missouri
- Josh Dobbs leads Vols to another shootout win as Florida clinches SEC East
- Corey Vereen says winning SEC East would 'mean everything' to Vols
- Friday forecast: Missouri at Tennessee
- Vols not surprised by Cameron Sutton's early return
- Fifth-year Vols want to savor final home game [photos]
- Jones: Status of three Vols up in the air for Missouri game
- Josh Dobbs hoping to put final touches on legacy with Vols
MISSOURI (3-7, 1-5 SEC) AT NO. 19 TENNESSEE (7-3, 3-3)
3:30 p.m. * Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn. * CBS/106.5 FM
Tennessee nearly had three 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since 1991 against Kentucky, and the Vols' backfield trio of quarterback Josh Dobbs and running backs Alvin Kamara and John Kelly could have another field day against Missouri's SEC-worst defense.
The Tigers are 13th in the league against the run and have allowed some huge rushing performances this season. LSU (418), Kentucky (377), Middle Tennessee State (311), Florida (287) and West Virginia (241) ran all over Missouri, and even with starting offensive linemen
Chance Hall (knee) and Dylan Wiesman (ankle) questionable to play, the Vols should have similar success. The tandem of Kamara and Kelly led Tennessee to 282 rushing yards at Texas A&M and 376 last week.
"We feel like we've got really good running backs," offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said. "They've all got something different, which is good. They all run hard, too. They're hitting the holes really quick right now."
ONE TO WATCH
In 10 games this season Tennessee used eight different starting lineups in its secondary due to injuries and suspensions. Expect the Vols to use No. 9 against the SEC's No. 2 passing offense.
Safety Todd Kelly Jr., one of two defensive backs to start every game and the team's leading tackler, is unlikely to play after spraining his ankle against Kentucky. His absence could force sophomore Stephen Griffin, who replaced Kelly last week, into the starting lineup and the most significant action of his career.
He made four tackles and forced a key fumble against Kentucky, but the Tigers will be a different challenge than the run-heavy Wildcats.
"We lost Todd, and he stepped right back in there and a couple plays later he caused the fumble," secondary coach Willie Martinez said. "It's good for him because he's been bumped up a little bit and coming off an injury. That was good to see him do that."
IN THE END
In last season's meeting, Tennessee and Missouri combined for two touchdowns and 26 points on a frigid night in Columbia. The Vols and Tigers could surpass those marks in the first half this season.
The season-long woes of Missouri's defense and the problems Tennessee injury-ravaged group has had stopping the run suggest a shootout is coming, and stops on defense could be at a premium.
"We've got a find a way, at the end of the day, to score one more point than they score," Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said. "That's really all I'm concerned about right now."
The pressure and the stakes are on the Vols, who could be two wins from Atlanta if LSU beats Florida. Tennessee ought to be able to replicate its 49-point, 599-yard explosion on offense last week and put up enough points against a similarly bad defense to win its home finale.
PREDICTION: TENNESSEE 45, MISSOURI 28