After totaling over 400 total yards, including 215 rushing yards, last week against No. 11 Kentucky, Tennessee’s offense came out flat against Missouri.
That resulted in a 50-17 loss to the Tigers on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
The Vols, who entered the weekend ranked last in the conference in total offense and rushing yards per game, had minus 17 yards at the end of the first quarter. Jarrett Guarantano was sacked twice in the first two drives, the first a hard hit from his blind side that would eventually knock the redshirt sophomore out of the game.
Despite the negative yardage, Tennessee only trailed 6-0 when the second quarter began. Keller Chryst, the graduate transfer senior quarterback, went to work immediately. Chryst found Jauan Jennings for a 41 yard gain before Ty Chandler capped off the drive with a 6 yard touchdown run to give the Vols a 7-6 lead.
Tennessee’s big play also seemed to wake Missouri’s offense up. Drew Lock linked up with Kam Scott for a 44 yard pass to Tennessee’s 15 yard line. Three plays later, Tyler Badie scored on a 4 yard run to give the Tigers the lead once again.
Chryst continued to take chances downfield. The quarterback connected with Marquez Callaway for 49 yards before the drive ended with a 21 yard field goal from Brent Cimaglia.
While Chryst was finding success through the air, so was Lock. The Missouri signal caller completed four out of five passes on the next drive, ending with an 8 yard touchdown strike to Dominic Gicinto to bump the Tigers’ lead to 19-10.
After Bryce Thompson returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards, Chandler added another 33 yards on the ground with just over a minute left to play in the first half. But rather than potentially cutting Missouri’s lead to two points, Chryst was intercepted by DeMarkus Acy, who returned it 76 yards to Tennessee’s 11 yard line. Missouri scored three plays later, this time on a quick pass from Lock to Johnathan Johnson.
The interception was Chryst’s first of the season and first for Tennessee since Sept. 22 against Florida. Guarantano set a school record last week when threw 144 consecutive passes without an interception. Chryst’s interception came on the 35th pass of his career on Rocky Top.
The Tigers owned a 26-10 lead at halftime, totaling 17 first downs in two quarters compared to the Vols’ 5. Missouri also wore out Tennessee’s defense, running 45 offensive plays compared to Big Orange’s 24.
Tennessee appeared to put a bandage on its offensive problems at halftime. After Chryst connected with Callaway for another 49 yard pass, Chandler rumbled into the end zone for the second time in the game for a 2 yard score.
Trailing by nine, Tennessee’s defense still struggled to make a stop. Missouri piled up a 7-play drive with gains of 16, 21 and 24 yards before Larry Roundtree III rushed two yards for a touchdown.
The game took a turn for the worse on the Vols next possession. Carlin Fils-Aime fumbled his first carry in the game before Joshuah Bledsoe returned it 36 yards for a touchdown and a 23-point lead.
Tennessee (5-6, 2-5 SEC) travels to Vanderbilt on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 4 p.m. in a must-win game for the right to go to a bowl game.