Tennessee vs. Missouri game day preview

The Vols face off against the Tigers in the second game of their adapted all-SEC regular season.

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 26: Josh Palmer #5 of the Tennessee Volunteers catches a touchdown pass during the football game at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee Football Instagram @vol_football)

The No. 21 Tennessee Volunteers (1-0) are set to face off against the Missouri Tigers (0-1) in the first game played at a reduced capacity Neyland Stadium this season.

With Tennessee’s 31-27 road win over South Carolina last week, the Vols are now on a seven-game win streak dating back to last season. This marks the longest win streak of all Power Five teams after Lousiana State’s loss to Mississippi State.

In the first game of the season for the Vols and Gamecocks, Tennessee senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano went 19-of-31 for 259 yards with one passing and one rushing touchdown. Senior wide receiver Josh Palmer was the recipient of the lone touchdown pass. He finished the game with 85 receiving yards.

Palmer was a crucial piece in last year’s 24-20 victory against Missouri. He was one of three receivers, along with Jauan Jennings and Marquez Calloway, to finish the game with over 100 receiving yards for the Vols. With the absence of the graduated Jennings and Callaway, Palmer has become the feature receiver for Tennessee. Last season he averaged just over three receptions a game, but against South Carolina, he doubled that mark with six.

A weakness for Tennessee in its first game was special teams. In the first quarter freshman long snapper Will Albright botched the snap causing a bad punt. 2019 Lou Groza semifinalist kicker Brent Cimaglia missed a 46-yard field goal wide left in the third quarter.

Missouri’s first game was a 38-19 blowout loss against No. 2 Alabama. Missouri gave up 303 passing yards and 111 rushing yards in their opening game. Their defense had no answer for Alabama’s highly touted offense and quickly went down to a 35-3 deficit.

On the offensive end, the Tigers could not hold onto the ball, resulting in three fumbles. Starting at quarterback for Missouri was the transfer out of TCU, Shawn Robinson. His backup, freshman Connor Bazelak, also got a chance during the game, but neither quarterback proved to be effective.

The Vols will also have the help of transfer Cade Mays. Mays is a former 5-star recruit who spent the beginning of his collegiate career at Georgia. He was ineligible for the first game of the season but has now been deemed eligible to play by the SEC.

Tennessee is favored by 12.5 points against Missouri on Saturday. The Vols won last season’s matchup, but since their first meeting in 2012, the Tigers have led the series 5-3.

Editors’ Picks

Ryan Sylvia, assistant sports editor – Tennessee 31, Missouri 13

Tennessee will continue their win streak and dominate Missouri. The lack of a proven, consistent quarterback will be the downfall of the Tigers and they will struggle to put up points. The Vols’ run game will improve with the addition of Cade Mays and should not have an issue running over this weak Missouri defense. Josh Palmer will also pick up where he left off against Missouri last year and have another big game as Jarrett Guarantano’s favorite option.

Christian, managing editor/sports editor – Tennessee 24, Missouri 10

This matchup will all come down to how many times Tennessee’s defense can stop the Missouri attack. The Tigers’ offense sputtered out of the gate at Alabama, and Tennessee’s defense played well against South Carolina. Vol running backs Eric Gray and Ty Chandler could potentially combine for 40 total touches after Tennessee goes up two scores early.

Game Time and Coverage

Kickoff in Knoxville is set for noon EST. The game will air on the SEC Network, and TNJN will have more coverage following the game.

Featured photo courtesy of Tennessee Football Twitter (@Vol_Football)

Edited by Madalyn Torres and Christian Knox

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Ryan Sylvia is the Sports Editor at TNJN. He is a senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville majoring in journalism and electronic media. Although he spent most of his life being raised outside of Philadelphia, he was born in Knoxville, and he is happy to be back home. Ryan has had a love for sports from an early age, and he found his love for writing in high school while taking journalism classes. He hopes to find a job involving both his passions as a sports journalist after graduation. To reach Ryan, email him at rsylvia@vols.utk.edu