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Missouri To Play Third Consecutive Game Pitting Backup QBs

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Tennessee expects quarterback Justin Worley to miss up to four weeks with a thumb injury. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
Tennessee expects quarterback Justin Worley to miss up to four weeks with a thumb injury. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

It's supposed to happen in practice or in some sort of staged scrimmage, not to decide the SEC East.

Missouri will play a third consecutive game in which both teams start backup quarterbacks due to injury.

At this rate, Alabama better hope another team wins the East Division, lest AJ McCarron suffer a torn triceps flexing in the mirror.

Missouri (7-1, 3-1) upgraded James Franklin (shoulder) to questionable, but still expects Maty Mauk to start his third consecutive game Saturday against Tennessee.

Meanwhile, Vols starter Justin Worley likely has a torn ligament, coach Butch Jones told reporters Tuesday.

"He'll be out an indefinite period of time," Jones said, giving a rough time frame of two-to-four weeks.

It's a break for the Tigers, which beat Florida (minus Jeff Driskel) and lost to South Carolina in double overtime after building a 17-point lead against backup Dylan Thompson, only for starter Connor Shaw to emerge from the bench late in the game and limp to a comeback win.

Missouri still will play in the SEC championship if it wins its final four games. Tennessee (4-4, 1-3) is a markedly better team at home this season and must travel to take on the SEC East leaders with a freshman quarterback, most likely Joshua Dobbs.

Dobbs replaced Worley against Alabama on Saturday and completed 5-of-12 passes.

Mauk has been inconsistent, hitting on big plays while also making some dangerous and off-target throws. He's completing less than 50 percent of his passes and has thrown an equal number of interceptions and touchdowns (2), yet his yards per attempt (8.7) is better than Franklin's.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has spent the week sounding as if he's talking himself and the team into remaining confident despite its surprise run coming to an end with a 24-yard field goal off the left upright Saturday in overtime.

"Every game is like a new chapter in my book," Franklin said, according to the Associated Press. "It has different story lines, the way the game goes, the flavor of the game. What you did last week has no bearing on the outcome of this week."