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Nov 4, 2017; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Ish Witter (21) celebrates with offensive lineman Adam Ploudre (66) after scoring during the first half against the Florida Gators at Faurot Field. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Struggling Vols Take on Surging Tigers

While the Tennessee Volunteers are working to get back on their feet this season, the Missouri Tigers are on their way up. When the two teams meet up this Saturday in Columbia, they’re much different teams that who they started out as.

Tennessee won their first game in more than a month last week. Meanwhile, the Tigers are on a three-game winning streak and coming off a dominant 45-16 performance against Florida. Mizzou is definitely going into the game as the favorite with their lethal offense that can strike from anywhere on the field.

Meanwhile, the Volunteers will have to exert discipline and tight defense to grab that sixth win and become bowl eligible.

Scouting the Tigers

By no means did Missouri get started on the right foot in 2017. The began 1-5 with their only win coming in their season opener against Missouri State.

Head coach Barry Odom said he’s a firm believer in doing the little things right and that’s when success begins to come.

It seems like that’s been working for the Tigers, whose three straight wins have come over Idaho, Connecticut, and Florida. All three wins have been blowouts, with Mizzou racking up 29-point margins or more.

Oct 28, 2017; East Hartford, CT, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Drew Lock throws a pass against the Connecticut Huskies. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Their total offense has made its way to No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference, while also sporting the No. 2 ranked passing offense. The Tigers are led by quarterback Drew Lock, who sits at the top of the SEC in passing yards with 2,795.

Odom said he feels like this team has begun to find their stride, which is imperative in the month of November.

Their defense is still working to match this level of play on the other side of the ball. In the SEC, they rank in the bottom half of the conference in scoring defense, rushing defense, and passing defense. In their losses this season, Odom noted the lack of consistency and how that has been their biggest vice this season. 

Scouting the Tigers

The Vols know what it’s like to have a rocky season too. There’s the calling for a firing of Jones by fans, changing quarterbacks, changing personnel, and losing their best player.

Tennessee’s Butch Jones knows going into this week that containing the Missouri offense will be the key to success. The scheme, tempo, run game, and screens are just a few of the things going for them and Jones said discipline is the focus.

Drew Lock will be the best quarterback Tennessee has seen so far. He’s completed 60.7% of his passes with 31 touchdowns. On the other hand, he’s thrown nine interceptions. Jones cited those statistics and the explosiveness they’ll face this weekend.

Statistically, the Vols don’t give up as many points per game as the Tigers do – only 20.8 compared to their 36.6. Tennessee’s defense also leads the conference in tackles.

When and Where to Watch

For two teams that have had inconsistent seasons so far, it will take until Saturday to see who shows up. A win could inch both team closer to bowl eligibility, a much-needed morale boost for both programs.

You can watch this conference matchup on SEC Network, kick off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.

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