The Tennessee Volunteers made the most of seven Western Kentucky turnovers, five of which occurred during a hilarious span of six plays for the Hilltoppers, on their way to a 52-20 win this afternoon in Neyland Stadium. The first half is best filed under "Great Cover, Bad Book," as the Vols were up 31-17 but were getting manhandled in every stat but turnovers and points.
If the question going into the locker room was whether the Vols would need every single one of six turnovers to barely beat Western Kentucky, the answer, fortunately for us, was no. Tennessee scored on its first possession of the second half (and twice more after that), and kept WKU's volatile offense out of the end zone. If the Hilltoppers' turnovers gifted the Vols 31 points, it's good to know that the final margin was still 32.
That's not to say that there aren't still some glaring deficiencies on the team. Quarterback Justin Worley got the win, managed the team well, and threw a couple of good passes, but you can't really say that his arm strength and accuracy are ready for the SEC. Worley went 11-19 for 142 yards and a touchdown, but of those 11 completions, I'd say a third of them were poor passes cobbled into completions by some great plays by the receivers.
But the offense rushed for 240 yards with Marlin Lane getting 97, Rajion Neal getting 74, and Deanthonie Summerhill getting 40. And although the defense gave up a ton of yards, they mostly minimized the points, and they either forced or at least made the most of seven turnovers.
The Vols travel to Eugene, Oregon to play the #2 Ducks next week. The Austin-Peay game answered the question of whether Team 117 could dominate an FCS opponent, and this WKU game answered the question of whether they could beat a good-but-not-great opponent. Next week will answer the question of just how good the Vols can be against an elite team.
But for now, enjoy the win, because WKU's no pushover. This'll be your Other Games thread for the rest of the day, and we'll have more on the WKU post game tomorrow.