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Vols look to dominate early and get meaningful reps for backups against North Texas

There are few true gimmes in college football, but this may be as close as Tennessee gets in a long time. How do the goals change in such a game?

Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

In college football, you generally don't ever want to classify an opponent in your division (or perhaps any other division) as a breather, but when you're running a marathon or competing in any other contest of endurance, you look for and take advantage of any opportunity to conserve energy for when you might need it more. The Vols have such an opportunity this week against North Texas.

No offense to the Mean Green, but this game should be about as close to a gimme as you'll see in college football. They are 1-8 against the 56th-toughest schedule in the FBS, their sole win a one-score victory over UTSA. They started the season at 28 on our 5-30 scale and quickly moved to 29 and stayed there. The commentariat has suggested they go ahead and move on to 30, but that's the land of never, and we just don't go there. But we are right across the tracks, and advanced stats give the Vols a 99% chance of beating the Mean Green.

So what do we want to see this weekend in a game like this? Let's see . . .

A no-questions, dominating quarter to a half. Tennessee's starters should come out rolling, roll some more, and then for goodness sake, keep the pedal down until we have a final score with which we can live. We should be well over 40 and holding them to well under 10 by halftime. Tell the starters they're playing half a game, but they have to accomplish an entire game's worth of points and stats in that time.

A second half of the second and third units practicing for the future. I know you don't want to humiliate anyone. Neither do I, but running up the score doesn't necessarily equate to humiliation. We're still not the deepest team, and our second and third string need actual practice reps, not just walk throughs of run plays. College football isn't just a string of games; it's a season, and what we do now matters later.

No injuries. Ironically, as I understand it, the best way to minimize the risk of injuries is to play like you mean it rather than playing at half heart, speed, and strength. That is all.

My prediction? Tennessee 52, North Texas 10.

Here's the comparison chart. Tennessee currently resides at third on the list of toughest schedules. North Texas is 56th. If you're interested in advanced stats, you can find them here (Tennessee's |North Texas's). They predict Tennessee 48.5, North Texas 9.8.

Tennessee Logo North Texas Logo Comps Result against Comps Guess
Closest Lower Closest Higher Closest Lower Closest Higher
Team Team Team Team
Rank Value Rank Value Rank Value Rank Value
Tennessee rushing offense vs. North Texas rushing defense 29 207.3 120 254.4 None SC/KY None SC/KY 250
None None 109/97 208.3/195.3 None 153/249
Tennessee passing offense vs. North Texas passing defense 77 215 117 286.9 None AR/BG None AR/BG 230
None None 114/107 283.6/268.7 None 232/205
Tennessee rushing defense vs. North Texas rushing offense 60 162.1 75 165.8 BG SC/AR BG SC/AR 130
78 163.4 58/41 175.8/192.3 124 152/275
Tennessee passing defense vs. North Texas passing offense 81 239.6 107 180.1 None SC/GA None SC/GA


None None 99/97 191.3/193.4 None 233/279
Tennessee scoring offense vs. North Texas scoring defense 34 35.1 125 45.6 None AR/KY None AR/KY 52
None None 86/82 29.4/28.9 None 20/52
Tennessee scoring defense vs. North Texas scoring offense 58 24.9 117 17.6 None SC/KY None SC/KY 10
None None 106/102 21.7/22.6 None 24/21