The Vols needed a win over Missouri to keep their SEC East title hopes alive, but even with that backdrop, many eyes were on Baton Rouge today. If Florida could beat LSU, they would clinch the SEC East, and there was nothing Tennessee could do about it.
LSU would get just 10 points on 5 different trips to the red zone, and the Gators would get a huge stop on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line to beat the Tigers, final score, 16-10.
That's how the East was won.
Coach Butch Jones said the distraction of the Florida game wasn't a problem for the team.
"Never addressed it one single time," Jones said. "Everything is about our time and working to be 1-0, that's all that matters."
The Vols sure didn't show any signs of disappointment with their play on the field.
12 seniors were honored in their last game in Neyland Stadium. It was an emotional day as senior captains Josh Dobbs, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Cam Sutton ran out through the 'T' for the last time.
It was an offensive battle from the very beginning. The teams combined for 1,352 yards of total offense.
Josh Dobbs put on a show. In his last game in Neyland Stadium, the senior threw for 223 yards, completing 15 of his 22 attempts for 3 touchdown passes. On the ground, he was the same Josh Dobbs we've come to expect over his time in Knoxville. 10 carries, 190 yards, 2 touchdowns. 70 of those yards came on one run. It was the perfect way to end his career in Neyland Stadium. After the game, Jones said it will be a career that is always remembered in Knoxville.
"Joshua Dobbs," he said, "I'm not very political, but he could be the President of the United States if he wanted to. He's a young man that, when he puts his mind to accomplishing what he wants, he'll accomplish whatever he wants. We knew we had something special years ago when we walked into that house in Alpharetta, Georgia."
The defense once again struggled to stop the run however, allowing Missouri to rush for 420 yards after allowing Kentucky to get 443 yards on the ground last week.
It was tight at halftime, the Vols led 21-20, but in the second half, Tennessee erupted for 42 points. The scoring started with a five-yard touchdown pass from Dobbs to Jauan Jennings and finished with a 59-yard pick six from Jonathan Kongbo.
Final score, 63-37.
"I'm really really happy for our seniors," Jones said. "I told them in the locker room that they'll always remember that last walk into the Peyton Manning locker room, singing the fight song, counting the points up. Everytime they walk into that locker room, they'll always remember their last experience in that locker room."
The Vols improve to 8-3 overall, 4-3 in the SEC. Tennessee will play Vanderbilt next week in Nashville at 8:30 p.m. EST.