Tennessee is looking to get bowl eligible Saturday night when they host South Alabama at Neyland Stadium.
Each week, the RTI team will provide game predictions for Tennessee’s weekly opponent.
We move on to South Alabama.
Ric Butler: Another gameday in Knoxville! For the first time since Oct. 9, Tennessee will not be playing a ranked team. After a daunting stretch of Ole Miss, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia, the Vols will have a terrific chance to lock down bowl eligibility with a game against South Alabama. Against those four ranked teams, Tennessee’s offense still averaged 28 points per game, which is a considerable number. However, with the Jaguars in town, I do expect Tennessee to once again climb above the 40-mark as they did so often at the beginning of the season. I expect this to be a game where Tennessee proves once again why they have one of the most high-powered offenses in the nation, wrapping this game up by halftime. It doesn’t look like running back Tiyon Evans will play, while JaVonta Payton does look to be trending up. I don’t have too many concerns on the defensive side of the football, and it does look like Aaron Beasley could be back in the lineup after suffering an injury against Georgia last weekend. At the end of the day, this is Tennessee’s big opportunity to become bowl eligible, a task that seemed wild to even think about before the season. I think losing three of the last four games combined with the potential of locking down a bowl game will motivate this team to a convincing victory under the lights of Neyland Stadium. Look for Hendon Hooker to have a bounceback game and the Vols’ defensive line to be nasty upfront.
Prediction: Tennessee 48, South Alabama 13
Ryan Schumpert: Tennessee has two games left in the regular season needing just one win to reach bowl eligibility. The Vols are looking for more than just bowl eligibility though. Josh Heupel is closing in on a 7-5 regular season if the Vols can close out the season with wins over South Alabama and Vanderbilt. It starts at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday night as the Vols take on South Alabama as 28.5-point favorites. Tennessee could be without a few key offensive players as Tiyon Evans and JaVonta Payton are questionable. Still, I think Tennessee’s offense takes out some frustrations for last week’s game and Hendon Hooker bounces back from his worst start this season. I think Tennessee will jump out to a three-score lead in the first quarter and will have the game out of hand by halftime. My question is how well can Tennessee keep its foot on the gas. That was an area of concern in the South Carolina game. Jake Bentley’s season-ending injury limits what South Alabama can do offensively but Jake Trotter has been solid and effective with his legs. We’ve seen Tennessee have issues defending running quarterbacks this season and the Vols’ defense has struggled as of late. I think the Jaguars will have some limited offensive success but Tennessee will win easily.
Prediction: Tennessee 48, South Alabama 20