Tennessee hosts UConn at Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon in its final non conference game of the 2023 season. The Vols are 36-point favorites over UConn in the homecoming matchup
Each week, the RTI team will provide game predictions for Tennessee’s weekly opponent.
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This game feels like it will be the biggest blowout of the season. UConn is much worse than we thought they’d be entering the season.
Everything is clicking for Tennessee’s offense right now. Joe Milton is playing the best he’s played all season, Dont’e Thornton is emerging, and the running game is, well, the amazing running game Tennessee has had all season.
UConn is a run-first offense rather than a pass-first offense. I expect Tennessee’s rush defense to once again rise to the occasion and limit the Huskies’ backs.
Give me Tennessee big in this one with a full fourth quarter of Nico Iamaleava.
Prediction: Tennessee 49, UConn 10
I think this is a game in which Tennessee’s offense explodes.
Here’s a short quote from UT OC Joey Halzle on Tuesday this week: We need to go put together a really good performance and handle our business. If other guys get the opportunity to play, that’s great. It’s all about going and rolling out there with our group and putting together a product on the field which is the way the offense can and should play out there. That’s the biggest focus we are looking at on this one.
That all being said, my belief is that Tennessee’s priority in this one is to keep the starting offense for a good while in order to make sure that unit continues the momentum from Kentucky and carries that into two Top 12 games coming up with Missouri and Vanderbilt. This isn’t the beginning of the season, it’s crunch time. I am excited to see what some of Tennessee’s younger players can do on the field, though.
Defensively, I want to see if Tennessee’s pass rush can really get in rhythm – again, to provide a little momentum into these next two games. That’s what this is about with two losses under their belt already, in my opinion.
I wasted a lot of my word count real estate with that quote so I’m just going to wrap things up here and say that Tennessee cruises to victory. For Halzle’s full quote, click here.
Prediction: Tennessee 51, UConn 16
There’s not a ton to say about this one. I anticipate Tennessee will make easy work of the Huskies and likely coast to a victory. I don’t think UConn is as bad as its 1-7 record indicates, they’ve lost four games by one score, but this isn’t a team equipped to play with Tennessee.
UConn wants to be a running team but Tennessee’s running defense is stout. I anticipate the Huskies trying to attack Tennessee’s secondary which looked shaky last week in its first game without Kamal Hadden. The Vols should be well equipped to bounce back from their issues last week against UConn and if they don’t it would be a worrisome sign.
On the other end, I’m looking for Joe Milton III to continue his strong stretch of games and for Dont’e Thornton to keep getting better at wide receiver after seeing a major increase of snaps last week. I’ll be curious to see how heavy the work load is for Jaylen Wright this week after he got banged up against Kentucky a season ago.
Tennessee wins this one big and moves on to a massive SEC matchup at Missouri.
Prediction: Tennessee 44, UConn 10
Tennessee has announced a sellout for the game. It is Homecoming, and this should be a Name Your Score type of game. However, that was also the case earlier this season against Austin Peay, an FCS opponent who Tennessee struggled to decisively put away. We see that lack of focus at times in games like these, and it is easy to understand why. That being said, I think this Tennessee team is preparing itself for a crucial finishing stretch. I am not sure if that means they will be 100% locked in for 60 minutes on Saturday, but I would expect a pretty focused effort. Offensively the Vols keep a pretty balanced attack to score 28+ points in the first half.
I expect Tennessee’s defense to mostly stifle a Huskie offense that ranks 116th nationally in yards per game. Look for at least one first-half turnover from a UConn offense that’s had 11 on the season. The crowd should start to thin out in the second half as Tennessee empties its bench. Nico Iamaleava throws his first touchdown pass as a Volunteer, and Dee Williams adds another to his collection. UConn scores late against Tennessee’s back ups to narrowly cover the spread.
Prediction: Tennessee 48, UConn 17