Prediction Panel: Tennessee vs. No. 23 Auburn

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    (Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics)

    Tennessee travels to The Plains on Saturday night looking to snap its current four-game losing streak.

    The Vols (2-4) will be facing No. 23 Auburn (4-2) coming off of a bye week as a result of their game with Texas A&M being postponed due to COVID-19. Auburn hasn’t played in two weeks due to a bye week and its game against Mississippi State being postponed. Kickoff between Tennessee and AU is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

    Managing editor Ben McKee and RTI contributor Blake Von Hagen share their predictions for the Vols’ matchup with the Tigers.

    Ben’s Pick

    There is a formula for Tennessee to upset No. 23 Auburn on Saturday night. It consists of running the football successfully, flustering Tigers quarterback Bo Nix, and slowing down freshman running Tank Bigsby. But the Vols simply don’t have the ingredients to accomplish those tasks.
    Tennessee’s best chance for success is by running the football. Auburn’s defensive front has struggled at times this season, but is coming off of its best performance of the season in a dominating win over LSU. The Vols are as healthy as they’ve been along the offensive line this season and must find a way to set the tone.
    The problem is, even if Tennessee can establish the rush, its defense is going to have a tough day corralling Nix, Bigsby, and Auburn’s tremendous wide receiver trio of Seth Williams, Anthony Schwartz, and Eli Stove. Nix has feasted on bad defenses this season, which is exactly what the Vols are on defense this year.
    Tennessee’s offense may have some success, but the defense will be what costs them a win.

    Pick: Auburn, 34-20

    MVP: Auburn WR Anthony Schwartz

    Tennessee has struggled defending the middle of the field all season long and now it is tasked with defending the fastest man in college football out of the slot. Whether it’s Theo Jackson, Key Lawrence or DoNeiko Slaughter, the Vols are going to have their hands full containing Schwartz.

    Blake’s Pick

    It’s tough to take Tennessee to cover the spread against any team with momentum right now. The Vols have question marks at almost every position and the morale surrounding the program is lackluster at best. Auburn is coming into this game on a two-game winning streak and has been excellent at covering the spread dating back to last season, so the Tigers are probably the play as double-digit favorites.

    Bo Nix is good enough to take advantage of bad defenses, as he showed against LSU. Gus Malzahn should have a good game plan prepared after having a few weeks off and Tennessee’s coaching staff is tough to trust right now. Maybe the Vols will prove me wrong, but this just doesn’t seem like a favorable spot for a struggling team.

    Pick: Auburn, 31-13

    MVP: Auburn QB Bo Nix

    Nix is coming off a 300-yard, three-touchdown performance against LSU and should be able to have similar success against Tennessee’s secondary.