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Preview: No. 25 Tennessee vs. Indiana State

No. 25 Tennessee (1-0) vs. Indiana State (0-1)

Saturday, Sept. 9th, 4 p.m. ET

Neyland Stadium (102,455) • Knoxville, TN

TV: SEC Network

Series Record: First meeting

 Setting the table

In the Butch Jones era, Tennessee has beaten FCS schools by no less than 35 points every year they’ve played one. Their average score against FCS opponents is 50-5 against four FCS schools since the start of the 2013 season. The Vols are coming off a thrilling 42-41 double-overtime victory against Georgia Tech while Indiana State is coming off a 22-20 loss to Eastern Illinois. Tennessee should be able to get a large number of their backups in for this game.

 Who has the edge

When Tennessee throws…

Quinten Dormady struggled early against Georgia Tech in the Vols’ season opener, but he and his offensive line should have a much easier time against Indiana State. Dormady found more rhythm in the second half and overtime, completing 12 of his 17 passes after starting just 8-of-20 in the first half. Tennessee will be without Jauan Jennings for this game, and it’s unknown still if Josh Smith will be back in this one. But the Vols should still have a strong advantage through the air no matter who is at quarterback. Edge: Tennessee 

When Tennessee runs…

John Kelly showed out in Week 1 on just 24 total touches in the game. Expect more of the same from him, and expect to see more of freshman Ty Chandler in this game as well. Sophomore Carlin Fils-Aime and freshmen Tim Jordan and Trey Coleman should get playing time as well, and the Vols should be able to do whatever they want on the ground in this one. Edge: Significantly to Tennessee 

When Indiana State throws…

The Vols had some bad coverage breakdowns against Georgia Tech to start the season. But Indiana State’s quarterbacks had a rough time against Eastern Illinois, so surely the Vols’ secondary can contain them. Baylen Buchanan is expected to be out, so freshman Shawn Shamburger should get some playing time in this game fairly early on too. Edge: Tennessee 

When Indiana State runs…

Tennessee was scorched on the ground on defense against Georgia Tech. The one thing Indiana State does well is run the ball, so the Sycamores should be able to get some yards on the ground against the Vols’ defense. Even with that, the Vols should still put up a much better performance against Indiana State than they did in Week 1. Edge: Push

On special teams…

Even without Evan Berry (who is still listed as questionable), the Vols should have a significant advantage on special teams against Indiana State. Tennessee’s punting game is still headed up by Trevor Daniel, and Ty Chandler and Micah Abernathy are more than capable as kick returners. Marquez Callaway didn’t get to do anything as a punt returner in Week 1, but he showed last year against FCS opponent Tennessee Tech that he is dangerous as a returner. Edge: Significantly to Tennessee 

 Best-case scenario for UT 

The Vols don’t sustain any more injuries, and they score enough in the first half to get starters out of the game early. Tennessee needs to get a lead early and need to pour it on quickly so they can rest their starters and get their younger players in the game as quickly as possible.

 Worst-case scenario for UT

Tennessee sustains another significant injury and will have to go the rest of the season without one of their play-makers on either side of the ball. The true worst case scenario is that Indiana State pulls of the massive upset, but another bad injury to an important player would be awful news for the Vols even if they win handily.

 How we think it’ll play out

Indiana State has the potential to be better than their 4-7 record last season this year, but chances are they’ll start this year 0-2 after this game. The Vols should win this game, the only question is by how much.

Our picks:

Nathanael: 48-17 UT
Will: 48-14 UT

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