• Tennessee is coming off of a big win over Kentucky, but the Volunteers' home record against the spread has not been good,. Can Drew Lock and Missouri pull off the cover on the road?
By Ed McGrogan
November 14, 2018

Missouri Tigers at Tennessee Volunteers (+6)

Sat. 11/17, 3:30 p.m. ET

Three things you need to know before betting on Missouri-Tennessee:

1. Until last week’s 17-point victory over Kentucky at Neyland Stadium, Tennessee was an abominable 1-8 against the spread in its last nine games at home in SEC play. That one win did come against Missouri in 2016 when the Tiger defense was picked apart to the tune of 63 Volunteer points. The offensively challenged Vols won’t put up anything close to that on Saturday, but Tennessee has won three of its last five games straight up, including a road victory at Auburn. First-year coach Jeremy Pruitt has his team trending in the right direction, but Tennessee is still 1-5 ATS in its last six games as a home underdog.

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2. Missouri's Drew Lock, a dual-threat weapon that will soon be playing on Sundays, is key to this matchup. But the person calling plays for Lock is also worth noting. Derek Dooley, the former Tennessee head coach and current offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Mizzou, will be looking for redemption against his old team. It’s hard to understate how much a win would mean to Dooley, who became persona non grata in Rocky Top after three rocky seasons at the helm. Given Lock’s performances two weeks ago at Florida (24 of 32 for 250 yards and three touchdowns) and earlier this season at Purdue (26 of 43 for 375 yards and three touchdowns), Dooley should have his QB set up to succeed in a hostile road environment.

3. In reviewing similar opponents, both Missouri and Tennessee lost by less than four points at South Carolina, were both beaten soundly by Georgia and Alabama, and both went 1-1 against Kentucky and Florida. But Missouri’s 6-4 record is more impressive than it may seem. The Tigers were undone by a borderline pass interference call with no time remaining in an eventual loss to Kentucky, and they were comfortably ahead at South Carolina before weather played a large role in the outcome, a Mizzou loss but a clean win on the stat sheet. This Missouri team is better than its record indicates. Tennessee, meanwhile, had an ATS loss at home to Charlotte earlier this month. It’s a game that isn’t talked about much because of the Volunteers’ turnaround against Kentucky, a team whose 7-3 record belies a string of narrow wins.

In one of the most daunting settings in college football, this isn’t the easiest spread for Missouri to cover. The Tigers have lost their last three games ATS as a road favorite but covered seven of the past 11 in such situations. With Lock, Dooley and a potent Tiger offense, Missouri has enough weapons to beat a mediocre Tennessee team by a touchdown or more.

Pick: Missouri -6

Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)