Part III of Cam's University of Tennessee Football Preview
We’re halfway through the season.
Next up: Bama in Neyland, the Gamecocks in Columbia, and Troy.
This hypothetical game prediction stuff is kinda fun, yall....
Saturday 10/20 Alabama
I love the tradition of the 3rd Saturday in October. I love that, regardless of recent history, this is still one of the most revered rivalries in college football.
And I love hating the Alabama Crimson Tide.
While to most casual college football observers this game has little significance currently, to fans onboth sides, this Saturday will never lose its luster.
I believe in my heart that the Vols will have the momentum and the ability to keep this close. What does my college football head say? This is Nick Saban and company. This program plays flawless defense and bone jarring offense. If it wasn’t the Tide I might even be more complimentary.....
However the Tide took massive hits in their skill positions last season, lost its top 4 receivers including Trent Richardson and Marquis Maze. Their talent is still young but capable and dangerous. There aren’t a lot of weaknesses to exploit unless you force the Tide to keep attempting field goals. Nick Saban coaches to avoid mistakes and the need for heroics from the quarterback. There will be big plays forced on both sides of the ball.
But stranger things have happened, right?
It’s hard to make predictions about the 7th game of the season with less than two weeks till kick-off. I don’t know if Bama will dominate the same way it did last year. Can the Tide actually make a repeat run at the National Championship?
Only time will tell and and I am at a loss to say anything more than I hope that the Tide doesn’ttake the Vols seriously this season.
A trap game? Maybe.
If Mizzou played hard the week before and Alabama is more focused on their trip to Baton Rouge in two weeks, there is hope. (They have Mississippi State at home the following week.) Hell this college football, anything is possible on Saturdays in the fall. Especially in Neyland Stadium. This prediction is NOT fun.
Prediction: UT: 24 Bama: 34
Saturday 10/27 @ USCe
Up until last season I believed that South Carolina would never beat the Vols in consecutive seasons. I was wrong.
Marcus Lattimore is back and healthy for the Gamecocks and even with the loss of Alshon Jeffery, there’s still a lot of serious talent on the edge. Granted it’s young and untested but there is remarkable size and strength on Spurrier’s team.
South Carolina gave up 30 sacks last year and while their offensive line appears to do an adequate job of run blocking, they struggle with the pass block which may be exacerbated this season by the youth on the line. UT’s secondary will be asked to step up in big way in Columbia.
The Stephen Garcia experiment was a disaster but Connor Shaw stepped in as a sophomore and completed 65+% of his passes last year. A calming influence on the offense is something this team has been lacking for several years. These players will not squander opportunities in the red zone.
The big question is this, after years of mediocrity can Spurrier and the Gamecocks maintain a level of success to compete year in and year out in the SEC? That remains to be seen. This cannot be the year to start to slip.
Personally I don’t have an issue with South Carolina. Do I think they should have a place in the Conference championship conversation? No. Have I been wrong before? I believe I mentioned that earlier.
Let’s hope I’m wrong again this year.
Prediction: UT: 17 USCe: 24
Saturday 11/3 Troy
There’s some sort of Trojan joke in here somewhere but I’ll leave that out for now....
The Troy Trojans were 3-9 overall last year with the high point of their season coming when they evened up their schedule 2-2 defeating MTSU and UAB in consecutive weeks.
This team is not expected to underperform this year however. And while I am not predicting the Vols to lose to Troy, I do expect this game to be a bit tougher than either Georgia State or Akron.
October is never an easy gauntlet to run for teams in the Southeastern Conference. The Vols will get an opportunity to rest up somewhat before the Missouri Tigers make their first appearance next week in Neyland Stadium.
Prediction: UT: 31 Troy: 9