1. At what point will the slump end for Missouri?
There will have been 42 straight days without a win for Missouri by the time it steps on the field against Tennessee. Plenty of offensive statistics during the Tigers' current four-game losing streak stand out as negatives, including having their last 30 offensive possessions not end in a touchdown. Seeking its first win since Oct. 12, is this the day the MU offense finally breaks through? Or is it more of the same against the Volunteers? Fortunately, unlike Missouri’s previous two opponents, Tennessee isn’t ranked in the top 11 of the country.
2. Is Barry Odom coaching for his job against Tennessee?
When asked this week about his job security, Odom spoke about the “body of work” during his first four years in charge at Missouri as well as the grade-point average and graduation rate of his student-athletes. While that matters, wins and losses dictate his future. Odom has more wins at this point in his MU tenure than any other head coach except Warren Powers, but the program is in a different place now with higher expectations. With defeats to Wyoming, Vanderbilt and Kentucky already this season, Odom's seat would only get hotter with a loss against Tennessee.
3. Which playmaker helps the MU offense get back on track?
One reason for Missouri's offensive failures the past few weeks has been the lack of explosive plays. The Tigers have shown glimpses of their early-season form, such as Tyler Badie’s long touchdown on a screen pass against Kentucky. There were also two long pass plays from Kelly Bryant to Jonathan Nance and Jalen Knox, respectively, against Florida. With two games left in the regular season, is there one player who steps up to help MU get back on track? Johnathon Johnson, who hasn’t played in three weeks due to illness and injury, could fill that void.
4. How much weight can the MU defense carry?
The Missouri defense has allowed 30 points or less in nine straight games. Given the talented offenses across the Southeastern Conference, that’s a statistic Tigers defensive coordinator Ryan Walters and Co. can hang their hats on. But as the offense has struggled to execute, more pressure has been put on the defense to consistently allow nothing. That’s a tough ask for any unit in the country. With the offense trying to regain form, can the defense maintain status quo against the Volunteers to give Missouri a chance?
5. Does the emotion of senior day make a difference?
Odom mentioned a few times this week how important it is to him and his program as a whole to win on senior day. Saturday will be the last time for several starters to play at Faurot Field. Odom said you remember bits and pieces from each game you play, but a little more gets remembered about your final home game. Does that motivate the Tigers to make it a positive experience against Tennessee? Keep an eye out for an outgoing player looking to make his mark on the field one last time in Columbia.