Tennessee vs. Missouri score, takeaways: No. 5 Volunteers dominate second half in bounce-back win over Tigers

No. 5 Tennessee put the disappointment of its first loss behind it in emphatic fashion as the Volunteers cruised to a 66-24 win over Missouri at Neyland Stadium. The SEC East showdown carried major postseason implications for both teams, and while the Tigers pushed Tennessee at times in the game, they ultimately had no answer for the Vols' explosive offense.

Redshirt senior quarterback Hendon Hooker reignited his Heisman Trophy hopes with over 400 yards of total offense and four touchdowns as the Volunteers racked up a program-record 724 yards and set a school record for most points scored in an SEC game. When Missouri drew within 28-24 early in the third quarter, the Volunteers ticked off three straight touchdowns drives of 67 yards or longer to retake control of the game. Ultimately, they scored the game's final 38 points and didn't slow down even when backup quarterback Joe Milton entered late.

After finishing with just 289 total yards in a 27-13 loss at Georgia last week, Tennessee accumulated 365 yards in the first half alone. While Missouri quarterback Brady Cook gave the Volunteers defense fits with his scrambling ability at times, Tennessee came up with seven three-and-outs in the game as a sellout crowd offered support on the program's Senior Day.

With the win, Tennessee finishes the home portion of its schedule unbeaten for the first time since 2007 as the Volunteers hit the road for games against South Carolina and Vanderbilt to close the regular season. At 9-1, Tennessee has now matched its best season win total since that '07 season with at least three games still remaining.

College Football Playoff implications

With Georgia set to clinch the SEC East with a win in either of its next two games, Tennessee will likely need to earn a College Football Playoff berth as a one-loss squad that did not play in its conference championship game. That has only happened twice before in the eight years of the CFP's existence. But Saturday marked a start toward redemption for Tennessee after the disappointing showing against the Bulldogs knocked the Vols from the No. 1 spot. 

The Volunteers could not afford another slip up, and they probably need some style points to help their case. That might explain why second-year coach Josh Heupel kept airing it out with the game out of reach and Milton in the game. Things got chippy when Tennessee scored its final touchdown with just 36 seconds on the clock, but if the goal was to make a statement with a dominant victory, then the extra pair of touchdowns in the final minutes helped accomplish that goal.

Hooker's highlights

The Heisman Trophy race is still wide open, but Hooker needed a big game to revitalize his hopes after Georgia's defense stymied Tennessee's offense last week. The redshirt senior delivered through the air and on the ground to keep his name firmly in the race. He finished 25-of-35 passing for 355 yards with three touchdowns while also running for 54 yards and a score. 

Hooker has now thrown for 24 touchdowns and just two interceptions with another five scores on the ground. The Virginia Tech transfer positioned himself to surpass 3,000 yards passing for the season next week against South Carolina.

Running back depth

While Tennessee's aerial attack was on display with Bru McCoy and Jalin Hyatt each surpassing 100 yards receiving, its rushing game was on point against Missouri as well. Hooker, Jabari Small, Jaylen Wright and Dylan Sampson each rattled off runs of 19 yards or more as the Vols averaged 7.1 yards per rush attempt. Sampson's performance was particularly noteworthy as the true freshman ran eight times for 98 yards and a score.

The workload marked his largest in a conference game this season, and the former three-star prospect made a compelling case to be a larger part of the running back rotation moving forward. With Tennessee leading just 35-24 in the third quarter, Sampson rattled off runs of 42 yards and 15 yards on consecutive plays to set up a 2-yard touchdown strike from Hooker to Princeton Fant.

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Emphatic win

Final: Tennessee 66, Missouri 24

Much was made about Missouri's improved defense entering this game after Tennessee throttled Missouri 62-24 last season with 683 yards. Well, the Volunteers have surpassed that yardage total here today while making an impressive statement about their worthiness for College Football Playoff inclusion. If style points were the goal, Tennessee succeeded today with more than 700 yards, and Hendon Hooker may just have resurrected his Heisman Trophy hopes as well.

November 12, 2022, 8:49 PM
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@SEConCBS via Twitter
November 12, 2022, 8:47 PM
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Milton airs it out

Tennessee's backup quarterback is Joe Milton, a Michigan transfer who began the 2021 season as the Vols' starter before Hooker stole the job after Milton down with injury. He decided to stick around and just hit Ramel Keyton for a 46-yard touchdown bomb to put the exclamation point on this game. Milton gained a reputation for overthrowing receivers last season, but he was right on the money there.

November 12, 2022, 8:36 PM
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Tennessee's defense

 As Chase McGrath adds a long insurance field goal to make it 52-24, let's talk about the Tennessee defense. While the Vols have given up 344 yards with time still remaining, they have also forced six three-and-outs. When this Vols' defense is discussed, it needs to be graded on a curve. With how quickly the offense operates, opponents are bound to have a ton of possessions and will rack up yards over the course of a game. But those three-and-outs are like gold for the Vols. Solid effort from Tennessee's defense today.

November 12, 2022, 8:22 PM
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Fourth down disaster

Missouri brought in Tyler Macon on fourth down for a bit of a trick pitch. It didn't work as Elijah Young bobbled the pitch. Tennessee falls on it, and that'll just about it do it here. Vols ahead 25 with the football and just 8:47 remaining.

November 12, 2022, 8:17 PM
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Tennessee in control

That was an incredibly impressive offensive display in the last 8:30 of the third quarter from Tennessee after Missouri drew within four points early in the quarter. The Tigers are much-improved defensively, but you wouldn't know it from this game. Tennessee is breaking off chunk play after chunk play and is in absolute control as the fourth quarter begins.

November 12, 2022, 7:59 PM
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@Vol_Football via Twitter
November 12, 2022, 7:53 PM
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21-0 run

The Volunteers have flipped the script here in the third quarter with a 21-0 run as they score their third touchdown of the quarter after forcing another three-and-out. Tigers on the ropes here after giving Tennessee all it could handle through the first 2+ quarters. 579 yards of offense for Tennessee with more than a quarter still to play.

November 12, 2022, 7:52 PM
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Touchdown Tennessee

So lethal, so quick. Hendon Hooker finds Fant for a two-yard strike to make it 42-24 just minutes after it looked like Missouri was going to mount a serious charge. Dylan Sampson set this TD up with a 42-yard run. Impressive speed from the true freshman as the Volunteers reassert themselves here in the third quarter.

November 12, 2022, 7:43 PM
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@Vol_Football via Twitter
November 12, 2022, 7:41 PM
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Third down stop

A false start turned a third-and-12 into third-and-17 as the crowd noise picked up. Cook found Banister for a nice pickup, but the Tigers had to punt. Big stop for the Vols as Drinkwitz plays it safe and punts it away. Vols have the football up 11 at their own 31. How about Brady Cook with 113 yards rushing for Missouri today, though. Dude has been a warrior.

November 12, 2022, 7:40 PM
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Quick answer

Just what the doctor ordered. On Tennessee's second play of the drive, Hooker finds Jalin Hyatt for a 68-yard score. He was wide open and went untouched down the sideline. Nice redemption for Hyatt after a couple of bad drops in the first half. Just like that, the Vols find a little bit of breathing room again.

November 12, 2022, 7:30 PM
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Got a ball game

Beautiful throw from Cook hits Dominic Lovett in stride for a 38-yard touchdown against single coverage down the right sideline. Brady Cook is putting together quite a performance today in dual-threat form and has the Tigers VERY much in this game at No. 5 Tennessee. Vols need to find their offensive groove again after scoreless possessions to end the first half and begins the second.

November 12, 2022, 7:25 PM
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Brutal penalty

A holding call on the Volunteers set them up in a first-and-20 situation after a quick first down strike to Jalin Hyatt. The Vols couldn't recover from the penalty, and their first possession of the third quarter ends with their first punt of the day. That was the start Missouri needed to make this a game in the second half. Little bit of nervous energy at Neyland.

November 12, 2022, 7:14 PM
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