4. Whose punt return game is better?
This is probably the most underrated part of the game, but both teams have a chance to run one back. They are both great at returning punts and horrible at defending them. It’s a bit more extreme for the Missouri Tigers, who have run one back for a touchdown and given up one. Tennessee football has done neither yet.
Mizzou has returned 10 punts on the year and is ranked No. 12 in yards per punt return at 14.90. Luther Burden has been their star there, as he has gained all of their punt return yards. On the other side, although they don’t have a touchdown, the Vols are No. 9 in yards per punt return at 16.08. Dee Williams is their main guy, but it has been by committee.
The other side for both teams is also horrendous, though. Missouri is dead last in fewest yards allowed per punt return at 18.9. Meanwhile, the Vols are down at No. 109, allowing 11 yards per punt return. This makes it highly likely one side, or even both run one back.
Of course, then there is the fluke play on the Kentucky punt that cost Mizzou last week, which probably didn’t help the perception of their elite return game, so all of these factors suggest Tennessee football does have an advantage. However, it’s still a huge question.