4. At Missouri Tigers
Saturday, Oct. 2; Faurot Field; Columbia, Mo.
Last year, Tennessee football beat the Missouri Tigers 35-12. The Vols moved to 2-0 at that point and were in the midst of an eight-game winning streak. Jeremy Pruitt’s program truly seemed to have taken off, as they made it into the top 15. Then the six-game losing streak began, first with an understandable loss to the Georgia Bulldogs and then that awful Kentucky Wildcats loss.
While the Vols fell apart as a program under Pruitt, Mizzou began to rebound from that loss under first-year head coach Eliah Drinkwitz. After that 0-2 start, the Tigers upset the LSU Tigers and beat that same UK team that blew out UT. Sure, they lost to Georgia and the Florida Gators, but they had a period in which they won five of six games.
At one point, this team even made it into the top 25. Simply put, they went down a path directly opposite the Vols. Now, entering Drinkwitz’s second year, expectations are through the roof for this program, which is not the one UT faced.
The Vols have to visit Mizzou this year, and they’ll be in a similar position under Josh Heupel that Mizzou was under when the two faced off last year: learning a new offensive system. That combined with the state of the programs makes this a more difficult game.