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Game Preview: Tennessee vs. No. 20 LSU

Tennessee (4-6) vs No. 20 LSU (7-3)

Saturday, Nov. 18th, 7:00 ET

Neyland Stadium (102,455) • Knoxville, TN


Series Record: Tennessee leads 20-9-3

 Setting the table

Tennessee has a new head coach on the sideline thanks to the firing of Butch Jones last Sunday. Brady Hoke is the Vols’ interim for the remainder of the season, and this will be his first game as a head coach since he was the head coach of Michigan. LSU has picked up steam as of late, and their powerful run game will look to eliminate the Vols from bowl contention.

 Who has the edge

When Tennessee throws…

Brady Hoke has been quiet about injuries this week, so we don’t know if Jarrett Guarantano or Will McBride is playing at quarterback. Regardless of who it is, LSU’s pass defense is stout and has one of the best pass rushes in the entire conference. Tennessee’s beleaguered offensive line is going to have trouble blocking for whomever is at QB. EdgeLSU

When Tennessee runs…

LSU’s run defense has been mediocre at best this season, but Tennessee’s rushing stats actually aren’t as good as you might imagine based on the perception from Vol fans and media. The Vols are only averaging 131.6 rushing yards a game this season and only 129.7 yards in conference games. Tennessee’s offensive line will be a problem in both the pass game and run game in this one. Edge: Slightly to LSU

When LSU throws…

The Tigers has a pretty conservative passing attack. Only Georgia has attempted fewer passes on the season than LSU, and the Tigers have done a good job taking care of the ball, only throwing four interceptions. Danny Etling won’t wow you with his athleticism or precision passing, but LSU has enough athletes to catch the ball to pick up yards. Tennessee’s pass defense has done reasonably well this season, but they’ve still had the second-fewest passes attempted against them in the SEC this season. They aren’t exactly getting tested because teams can just run on them. Edge: Push

When LSU runs…

Tennessee has had trouble stopping teams who are bad at the run. LSU has the No. 5 rushing offense in the SEC and has a two-headed attack that’s totaled over 1,700 yards on the season. What more do you need to hear? Edge: Significantly to LSU

On special teams…

LSU has a dynamic punt return game, but that’s about it. They aren’t good at punting themselves and are about average everywhere else. The Vols are good at punting the ball away but don’t have much threat of returning kick without Evan Berry, and the Vols hardly ever return punts. Edge: Push

 Best-case scenario for UT 

Tennessee rides the wave of emotion of interim head coach Brady Hoke and is able to pull off the upset. The Vols haven’t defeated a ranked team since they beat Georgia on a Hail Mary last year. An upset would keep the Vols’ bowl hopes alive.

 Worst-case scenario for UT

The Vols lose and lose convincingly. A loss eliminates Tennessee from bowl eligibility regardless, but another embarrassing loss in Neyland Stadium would just add insult to injury for a season that’s been one to forget to this point.

 How we think it’ll play out

LSU matches up well against Tennessee. The Vols’ weaknesses play right into their strengths. Tennessee will likely come out and put up a fight for a half, but expect the Tigers to either pull away late or just salt the game away with their powerful run game.

Our picks:

Nathanael: LSU 28-13
Will: LSU 38-20
Ben: LSU 24-10

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