Vols wrap up road schedule at Missouri
Published 9:12 am Friday, November 10, 2023
No. 13 Tennessee wraps up its 2023 road slate this Saturday afternoon with a pivotal SEC East battle at No. 14 Missouri at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.
The Vols and Tigers enter the contest with identical 7-2 overall records and are tied for second in the SEC East standings at 3-2 in conference play. They are also separated by just one spot in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings.
For the third time this season, the Vols will be featured in the SEC on CBS game of the week with Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson and sideline reporter Jenny Dell on the call. Kickoff is set for 3:39 p.m.
Fans can listen to Tennessee’s official radio broadcast on the Vol Network over 70 stations across the state of Tennessee and the southeast, SiriusXM (Ch. 83) and the SiriusXM app (Ch. 83), as well as the Varsity App. A live audio stream of the broadcast will also be available on UTSports.com and the Tennessee Athletics App.
The Big Orange Countdown pregame show begins two hours prior to kickoff at 1:30 p.m.
Top 25 Units
Tennessee is ranked in the FBS top 25 in scoring offense (34.8 – 22nd), scoring defense (18.4 – 21st), total offense (466.4 – 13th), total defense (319.6 – 21st), rushing offense (227.8 – 3rd) and rushing defense (97.3 – 13th). The Vols are one of only four FBS teams who are in the FBS top 15 in both rushing offense and rushing defense, joining Air Force, Oregon and UCLA. They lead the SEC in both categories.
Seven Wins and Counting
Following last weekend’s victory over UConn, UT has won at least seven of its first nine games in back-to-back seasons, a first for the program since 2003-04. That’s also the last time the Vols won eight of their first 10 contests in back-to-back seasons, which Tennessee will try to do at Missouri this Saturday. With its win at Kentucky on Oct. 28, the Big Orange secured bowl eligibility for the third straight season for the first time since 2014-16. The Vols also reached the six-win mark prior to November for the second consecutive year, marking the first time the program has done so in back-to-back seasons since 1998-99. Prior to last year’s 8-0 start after the completion of October, Tennessee had not hit the six-win mark prior to November since 2006.
The Vols’ defense has lived in opponents’ backfields this season, ranking sixth in the FBS and second in the SEC in tackles for loss per game (8.2). Tennessee has posted three games this year with double-digit TFLs, including 13.0 in last Saturday’s win over UConn. The Big Orange are also tied for ninth nationally in sacks per game (3.3) and have recorded at least one sack in 13 consecutive contests.
Wright Running Wild
Junior running back Jaylen Wright is having a breakout season for the Vols and has emerged as one of the top rushers in the country. The Durham, North Carolina, native enters Saturday’s game tied for the national lead in 100-plus yard rushing games with six. Wright also leads the SEC and ranks second in the FBS in yards per carry (7.51) while leading the league with 30 runs of 10 or more yards.
Last Time Out
Tennessee extended the nation’s third-longest home winning streak to 14 with a dominant 59-3 win over UConn on Homecoming in Neyland Stadium. The Vols produced three defensive touchdowns in a game for the first time in school history as defensive end Tyler Baron had a 24-yard scoop-and-score, safety Jaylen McCollough returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half and linebacker Aaron Beasley had a 39-yard pick six one drive later.
Eight different Vols scored in the game, including Wright, who went over 100 yards rushing for an SEC-best sixth time this season, highlighted by an 82-yard touchdown – tying for the ninth-longest rush in UT history – on the second play of the game. Joe Milton III accounted for three touchdowns and was 11-of-14 for 254 yards and two scores through the air – all in the first half. Milton fired the two longest pass plays of the season – a 60-yard TD to Ramel Keyton and an 83-yard TD to Squirrel White. Milton also rushed for a 6-yard TD. Linebacker Elijah Herring was the Vols’ leading tackler with eight, while Baron finished with 2.0 tackles for loss. The Vols averaged a Josh Heupel-era high 10.0 yards per play and finished with 650 yards of total offense.
Tennessee vs. Missouri: 6-5 (on field) | 4-5 (NCAA)
Saturday will mark the 12th meeting between the Vols and Tigers, all of which have come after Mizzou joined the SEC in 2012. After losing four of the first six meetings, Tennessee has reeled off four straight victories in the series, including back-to-back wins of 38 points or more in the past two seasons (62-24 in 2021, 66-24 in 2022).
The Tigers are led by fourth-year head coach Eliah Drinkwitz, who owns a 24-21 record since taking over the program in 2020.
Missouri features a balanced and productive offense that ranks fifth in the SEC in yards per game (434.1) and points per game (32.4). Running back Cody Schrader leads the SEC in rushing yards per game (102.1) and has scored 10 touchdowns on the ground this season. Quarterback Brady Cook has completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 2,471 yards and 16 touchdowns, leading an aerial attack that ranks fifth in the SEC (284.9 ypg). He is also a threat on the ground, ranking third on the team with 173 yards rushing and five scores. Cook’s top target is sophomore wideout Luther Burden III, who ranks third in the SEC in receiving yards per game (106.4). He also ranks second in the conference in receptions (64) and is tied for fourth with seven touchdown catches.
Senior linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper leads the Tigers’ defense with 53 total tackles to go along with six tackles for loss, three sacks and six quarterback hurries. Junior cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine has had a breakout season in the secondary, ranking second in the FBS in passes defended with 16 (14 pass breakups and four interceptions). Darius Robinson leads the Mizzou defensive front with 8.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks.