Missouri vs Tennessee: Equally As Good As They Are Bad
Missouri Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday 10 November 2012 | 12:21pm EST
Neyland Stadium (102,455) | Knoxville, TN | SECN/ESPN3
This is one of the most interesting matchups of the season for Tennessee as well as being a game that holds little interest — all in the same bundle.
The 4-5 Mizzou Tigers come to Knoxville to face the Vols, also 4-5, in the first ever meeting between these two schools. The fact that each team has equal season records brings up this interesting point: The Vols and Tigers are equally as good as they are bad.
Tennessee’s national ranking in Total Offense is 18th (out of the 120 BCS schools; 485ypg). Missouri’s ranking in Total Defense is 22nd (328ypg). The Vols sport a 115th national ranking in Total Defense (483ypg), with the Tigers having and equally woeful 112th mark in Total Offense (319ypg).
I can’t wait to see the anemic Tiger offense take on the porous Volunteer defense. Sal Sunseri’s troops just might be the tide that raises all Tiger hopes.
To be fair, Missouri’s offense has been hampered by injuries to their leader, QB James Franklin. Last season in the Big XII, Franklin was a star, throwing for 2,865 yards and rushing for 981 more, all accounting for 36 TDs. But this season has been a nightmare.
Injuries have forced him to miss two games in 2012. Franklin had shoulder surgery in the spring, but he suffered a different shoulder injury in the Tigers’ second game against Georgia and missed the following game. Then Franklin suffered a knee sprain against Vanderbilt, forcing him to miss another game the following week. Last week, Franklin didn’t look or play healthy, throwing 4 INTs in the narrow loss against Florida.
And to make matters worse for Mizzou, the Tigers lost yet another offensive lineman last week, making that the 7th OL member to suffer an injury resulting in a missed game.
So perhaps from the comic relief angle — or at least the sympathetic standpoint — absolutely anything could happen on Saturday when Missouri has the ball. Or, perhaps absolutely nothing will.
Then there is the powerful and exciting Tennessee offense facing a pretty stout and highly talented Missouri defense. Real college football will be featured when the Vols have the ball, and it should be a real test against a defensive squad upon which Missouri’s bowl game hopes rest.
So why the lack of buzz about this game, a game of huge importance to both teams as they fight for a December/January slot?
The pall that covers the Tennessee Volunteer football program is as thick as I can remember, and that includes 2008 and 1976. It is a fog that has sucked the very life out of the fanbase, fanned by the constant rumors spread on the various social media which have oozed into the more traditional media.
The pro-Dooley vs anti-Dooley factions have grown farther apart. But it is the anti-Dooley troops that far outweigh the other. They have also become increasingly entrenched in their position.
But there is one minor partition within the anti-Dooley camp. It divides (1) those that believe that Dooley is gone after this season no matter what the Vols do during the remainder of the season from (2) those that believe the Vols need to lose at least one of their remaining three games for the embattled coach to be sent packing.
Thus, the former group will likely be pulling for the Vols on Saturday, and the latter group likely will not.
There are all kinds of fans — those that pull for their team under any circumstances, and there are those that would actually pull against their own if they thought it would prove better in the long run if they lost a particular game.
Some in the VolNation have admitted to rooting for Troy when the Trojans were up by 7 over the Vols late in last Saturday’s game. I would wager that there were many more — those that wouldn’t dare express having had such feelings.
Either way, just remember that there are nearly 100 young men donning the orange jersey every Saturday. I would bet that there isn’t a single one of them that wishes he and his teammates fail for some longer-term objective fabricated by those not on the field.
And that is what we’ve come to.
Tennessee 37 Missouri 33