Prediction Panel: No. 5 Texas A&M vs. Tennessee

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    Tennessee will be looking to pull off the upset on Senior Day when No. 5 Texas A&M arrives inside of Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

    The Aggies have much to play for. They have an outside shot of making the College Football Playoffs if they can take care of business and prevent the Vols from playing spoiler. Texas A&M would also need No. 7 Florida to upset No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game in order to have a chance.

    Tennessee is coming off of a 42-17 win over Vanderbilt to snap a six-game losing streak. Harrison Bailey started at quarterback for the Vols and threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns in his second career start. JT Shrout also played quite a bit, throwing for 90 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

    Texas A&M beat Auburn 31-20 in its last game out. The Aggies were scheduled to play Ole Miss last weekend, but the game was cancelled due to COVID-19 issues within the Rebels’ program.

    The Rocky Top Insider team makes their picks for Tennessee’s matchup with the fifth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies this Saturday. Managing editor Ben McKee, as well as RTI contributors Blake Von Hagen and Noah Taylor share their predictions for the Vols’ final regular season game.

    Ben’s Pick

    Texas A&M is not a great matchup for the Vols on paper. Everything Texas A&M does well, the Vols do poorly.

    The strength of this Aggies football team on both sides of the ball is the running game. Texas A&M runs the football as well as anybody in the country behind one of the best offensive lines in college football and then they stop the run as well as anybody courtesy of a physical defensive front.

    Tennessee has struggled to run the ball consistently this season and it’ll be even harder to do so against the Aggies without junior offensive lineman Cade Mays, and potentially senior center Brandon Kennedy. Tennessee’s passing game will need to take pressure off of the running game, but A&M’s pass defense has been just as good its run defense, ranking second in the SEC.

    The Vols will need to play their best game of the season if they want to pull off the upset. That means winning on third downs, creating turnovers, taking care of the football and generating explosive plays — things that the Vols have struggled to accomplish all season long. It’s hard to believe they’ll of a sudden begin to do so in the last game of the season.

    Pick: Texas A&M, 38-17

    MVP: Texas A&M RB Isaiah Spiller

    Isaiah Spiller should have a field day running behind an Aggies offensive line that will be moving Tennessee defenders left and right. Spiller is one of the best runners in the SEC and it will be on full display once again in Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

    Blake’s Pick

    Tennessee did well to end its losing skid last week, but there’s not much reason for optimism heading into this game. Vanderbilt was missing players due to opt outs, injuries and COVID-19…not to mention the Commodores are a winless team.
     
    Texas A&M has won five games in a row by double digits and should be motivated to prove a point to the College Football Playoff committee on Saturday afternoon. Kellen Mond has had an excellent season and Isaiah Spiller has averaged 5.9 yards per carry.
     
    All six of Tennessee’s losses have come by double-digits. It’s tough to see this game being close. This might be a blowout loss that puts an end to the Jeremy Pruitt tenure in Knoxville.

    Pick: Texas A&M, 35-13

    MVP: Texas A&M RB Isaiah Spiller

    Spiller has gone over 100 yards in three consecutive games. He is averaging nearly six yards per carry this season and I don’t see the Tennessee defense putting up much of a fight.

    Noah’s Pick

    Texas A&M will enter Saturday’s game against Tennessee with a lot to play for. A win over the Vols will push the 5th ranked Aggies to 8-1 overall and with a serious shot at making the College Football Playoff should Ohio State either lose the Big Ten title game to Northwestern or if the committee doesn’t think the Buckeyes’ resume and lack of games played is good enough.

    Enter the Vols who are coming off of a 42-17 win over Vanderbilt, a win that snapped a six-game skid after starting the season 2-0. Texas A&M hasn’t played a football game since Dec. 5, that was a come-from-behind win at Auburn.

    With the more than two weeks off and a possible playoff berth on the line, I’ve got the Aggies winning fairly easily. Their last noon kickoff was against that Auburn team on the road and Texas A&M looked sluggish for a lot of that contest. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar result early on but I think the Aggies offense will be too much down the stretch.

    Pick: Texas A&M, 35-14

    MVP: Texas A&M RB Isaiah Spiller