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Key Matchup: Tennessee Offense vs. Missouri Defense

The deciding factor?

Who will prevail?

Missouri travels to Knoxville this weekend to take on the Volunteers in what should be an interesting match-up. The Tigers (4-5, 1-4 SEC) are looking to get back to .500 after a heartbreaking loss to Florida in The Swamp. Tennessee (4-5, 0-5 SEC) is looking for its first SEC victory after an explosive outing by its offense against Troy.

The key to this game will be how Missouri handles Tyler Bray and the Volunteer offense, which is 12th in the nation in passing yards a game. Stopping Tennessee's rushing attack is just as important. Tennessee likes to use a lot of play-action to free up Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson down field. Both WR's are big play makers for this offense, and the task for the Missouri defense is to keep the ball out of their hands as much as possible.

Tennessee's offensive line has done a tremendous job of protecting Bray, as he's only been sacked four times this season. When he has time to sit in the pocket, he has been able to torch secondaries. Missouri's defense has been lead by the All-American type-play of DT Sheldon Richardson and strong play out of the rest of the D-line. Their big task this weekend will be to get to Bray early and often. If they're able to disrupt his rhythm and get him out of the pocket, Missouri will have a good chance to win this game given Tennessee's horrific defense.

It will be interesting to see how Mizzou defensive coordinator Dave Steckel game plans for Bray and the Volunteers, especially because the Tigers have struggled in pass defense. Some of that falls on the D-line for not creating enough pressure, but a lot of has been broken coverages down field and DB/LB losses in man-to-man battles. Against Tennessee, expect to see a little more nickel and dime coverages, so it will be key to get pressure with a four-man rush. Last week against Florida was a good example of how good this Missouri defense can be. The Tigers were able to contain the run and defend the pass and gave the offense a chance to win. If the defense is able to repeat that performance, the Tigers should have a good chance of their first SEC road win.