Tennessee is trying to record back-to-back strong performances following its impressive win at Missouri.
Each week, the RTI team will provide game predictions for Tennessee’s weekly opponent.
We move on to South Carolina.
Ric Butler: I felt like my biggest takeaway after the Missouri game was how the Tennessee players said that was the first game this season in which Tennessee played a complete game for all four quarters. And you could see it too. From the opening to the closing whistle, Tennessee played a complete game. They began the game by establishing a relentless run which allowed them to jump out to an early lead. Then, Tennessee just kept executing their jobs. The defense came up with big turnovers in the second half thanks to an overaggressive Missouri offense, and the Vols were able to close the game out with a rotation into their depth chart. So now, Tennessee just needs to run that back and all will be good. Simple, right?! Alright, alright, maybe a little easier said than done. There’s no question that Tennessee will want to be balanced on offense, with an emphasis on establishing the run. That seems to be when Tennessee’s offense best operates. However, on the other hand, South Carolina’s defense will try to force turnovers every drive. If the Vols jump out to a good-sized lead, that will only intensify, too. Tennessee will need to be smart with the ball and cannot hurt themselves with turnovers. Defensively for Tennessee, I think it’s a similar mindset to Missouri. If Tennessee’s offense can jump out to a lead, it will force the Gamecocks into a more aggressive, pass-heavy gameplan, which Tennessee can take advantage of. Truthfully, I don’t see South Carolina being too much of a threat, but they are still talented nonetheless. But Tennessee hit a different level on offense last week, so it will be fascinating to see how close they can come to repeating that efficiency.
Prediction: Tennessee 38, South Carolina 14
Ryan Schumpert: Tennessee returns to Neyland Stadium Saturday after a two-week hiatus that saw the Vols start SEC play 1-1. A win over South Carolina Saturday would put Tennessee in an excellent spot to earn bowl eligibility and would even open the door for the Vols to surprise and win seven— or maybe even eight— games. Shane Beamer brings a South Carolina team to Knoxville that’s been living on the edge this season. At 3-2, the Gamecocks earned narrow wins over ECU and Troy— games they easily could have lost without a pick six (ECU) or blocked punt for a touchdown (Troy). While the Gamecocks lost by six against Kentucky, that number could have been way worse if it weren’t for four Wildcat fumbles. Coming to Knoxville, South Carolina has nine offensive touchdowns an average of just under two a game. If you take out the season-opening win over FCS Eastern Illinois, South Carolina has five offensive touchdowns in four games. South Carolina’s defense is much better than its offense but if the Vols can establish the run, take care of the ball and play as they have for much of the season on special teams, this is one Tennessee should take care of. Still, this series always seems to produce competitive games. In the last nine meetings, only Tennessee’s 41-21 win in 2019 was decided by more than a touchdown. Still, I say the Vols get it done in the “dark mode” uniforms and do their part to set the stage for Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville.
Prediction: Tennessee 34, South Carolina 17