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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Tennessee linebacker Darrell Taylor, left, and linebacker Henry To'o To'o celebrate making a stop against UTC during the Sept. 14 game in Knoxville.

TENNESSEE (5-5, 3-3 SEC) at MISSOURI (5-5, 2-4)

Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019

7:30 p.m. EST at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo.

 

VIDEO & RADIO

SEC Network & 106.5 FM

 

THE MATCHUP

Whoever starts at quarterback for Tennessee will face a challenge against a Missouri defense that ranks first in the Southeastern Conference against the pass, third in pass efficiency and second overall. All signs point to redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano — who has enjoyed quite the resurgence since losing his No. 1 job six games ago — being that guy behind center, because he has started to morph into the quarterback his coaches and teammates expected him to be this year. With Missouri's offense sputtering in recent weeks and Tennessee's defense playing well, it may not take many points to get a win — but it's going to be a tough challenge.

 

ONE TO WATCH

Of the 22 sacks Missouri has allowed this season, 12 have come during its current four-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Tennessee's defense ranks third in the SEC in sacks with 25, including 17 in the past five games. The Tigers pride themselves on being able to run the ball, doing so on 55% of their offensive plays this season. If they're incapable of moving the ball on the ground and forced to rely on passing, it will give Vols defenders such as current SEC sacks leader Darrell Taylor and a rapidly improving line opportunities to get into the backfield.

 

IN THE END

Tennessee has won three straight games and four of its past five. Missouri comes in on a streak, too, but headed the other direction as the Tigers have lost four straight while struggling to produce on offense in recent weeks. Maybe that matters, maybe it doesn't, but the Vols have been trending in the right direction and finding ways to win games against opponents with whom they're similarly matched. They'll do so again and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2016.

 

PREDICTION

Tennessee 20, Missouri 12

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.

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