1. Tennessee tries to stay on track for a bowl bid after last week’s narrow 55-48 escape over Troy of the Sun Belt Conference. Tyler Bray put up huge numbers in the win and he needed to as Troy matched the Vols score for score throughout the game. Tennessee is facing a team that is not as good as Troy offensively. To qualify for a bowl, the Vols need wins in at least two of their final three games, a stretch that also includes Vanderbilt and Kentucky in addition to Missouri.
2. Tyler Bray has taken his game to a new level in the two games since Alabama shut him down. Bray averages 312 passing yards per game, second to Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, and his 25 touchdown passes are the most in the conference, four better than Georgia’s Aaron Murray. Against Troy, Bray set personal bests by throwing for 530 yards and 5 touchdowns with no interceptions on 29 of 47 passing. He was especially sharp in the fourth quarter, throwing a pair of touchdown passes and for 175 yards to rally the Vols from a 40-34 deficit.
3. Where’s the D? Tennessee continues to regress on defense. The Vols haven’t held an opponent to less than 30 points since a 47- 6 win over Akron on Sept. 22. Since then, the Vols have allowed 221 points in five games, an average of 44 points per outing. Troy finished with 721 yards, including 496 passing. Tennessee has slipped to the bottom of the SEC in almost every major defensive category. The Vols rank last among the 14 teams in scoring defense (35.4 ppg), total defense (483 ypg) and pass defense (296.8 ypg). They are ahead of only Auburn in rushing defense (186.3 ypg).
4. It might take winning the final three games to save Derek Dooley’s job, but even that might not help. Kentucky already has announced it is pulling the plug on Joker Phillips and that might be only the first domino to fall in the SEC. Overall, the Vols are better than when he first inherited them but that improvement has been minimal in terms of success against the elite teams in the league. The defense has been downright embarrassing this season, and even a bowl bid might not be good enough for Dooley to return for another season.
Justin Hunter WR 6-4, 200 Jr.
Hunter had a monster game against Troy with 9 catches for 181 yards, the third time this season he has eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Hunter has climbed into a third place tie for receptions with Texas A&M’s Mike Evans with 56 catches for 838 yards. Barring injury, Hunter seems to be a lock to go over the 1,000-yard mark.
1: This will be the first meeting between the two teams.
4: Number of touchdown passes thrown by Missouri quarterback James Franklin this season.
25: Number of touchdown passes thrown by Tyler Bray
38: Number of Tds allowed by Tennessee’s porous defense this season. 1,292: All-purpose yards for receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, who leads the SEC in that category.
Missouri defense vs. Tyler Bray: Bray comes in as one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country and he’ll be facing a Missouri defense that is stingy against the pass. The Tigers allow only 185 yards per game and have given up 10 TD passes in nine games.
This is a game Tennessee should win. Missouri’s offense has struggled and likely won’t be able to win a shootout with the Vols. Dooley needs every win he can muster in order to make a case for saving his job.
Tennessee 38, Missouri 28