WHEN: Saturday, November 2 at 6:00pm CST
WHERE: The ZOU (67,124) Columbia, Mo.
TV: ESPN (national) Steve Levy – play-by-play, Brian Griese – color, Tom Luginbill – sideline
SERIES: Missouri leads 1-0
COACHES: Butch Jones, Tennessee 4-4 (1st year), overall 54-31 (7th year) Gary Pinkel, Missouri 97-62 (13th year) overall 170-99-3 (23rd year)
One of the biggest positive signs that Mizzou fans got this week was the announcement on Monday by head Coach Gary Pinkel that senior quarterback James Franklin would be listed at third on the depth chart this Saturday and was questionable to return. Although the news isn’t a definitive statement that Franklin will play.
It will be only the second ever meeting between the two schools, with Mizzou claiming the inaugural game of the series last season with a 51-48 quadruple overtime thriller in Knoxville last year. This will be Tennessee’s first ever game inside of the state of Missouri.
The senior captain L’Damian Washington continues to lead Mizzou at wide receiver. He’s amassed 635 yards and eight touchdowns, which is tied for second in the SEC. Fellow teammate and senior Marcus Lucas leads the team in receptions with 39.
On the rushing side of things, the ‘Three Headed Monster’ of Henry Josey, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy is firing on all cylinders. They’re all still averaging more than 50 yards per game, giving them an average of more than 150 yards per game as a combined unit. It’s gotten harder for opponents to stop the run when they’re not sure who they’re going to be trying to stop each play.
Defensively, Mizzou is strong as Michael Sam leads the nation in sacks with 10 and tackles-for-loss with 16. Sam was announced as a Chuck Bednarik Award semifinalist this week with his All-American caliber of play. We’ve all seen the talent that Kony Ealy and Markus Golden have displayed this year to make Mizzou one of the deepest teams in the SEC at defensive line. But if you’re looking for an up-and-comer, look no further than redshirt freshman Harold Brantley, who had a season high of four tackles last week.
Senior linebacker Andrew Wilson continues to find the ball. He leads the team in tackles with 58. He’s also Mizzou’s active career tackling leader with 277. Senior Donovan Bonner is having his best season as a Missouri Tiger, and sophomore Kentrell Brothers has started every game so far for the team.
The secondary got a huge boost as senior cornerback E.J. Gaines was cleared from injury this week. His counterpart Randy Ponder has been a huge success in the absence of Gaines, and true freshman Aarion Penton showed incredible depth in the secondary.
One of the things that has helped the team out so much is the tremendous fan support they’ve received this season. There will only be two more opportunities to see the Tigers at The ZOU this season: this Saturday and against Texas A&M on Nov. 30 for the 2013 regular season finale.