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.
|Comps||Result against Comps||Guess|
|Closest Lower||Closest Higher||Closest Lower||Closest Higher|
|Tennessee rushing offense vs. North Texas rushing defense||29||207.3||120||254.4||None||SC/KY||None||SC/KY||250|
|Tennessee passing offense vs. North Texas passing defense||77||215||117||286.9||None||AR/BG||None||AR/BG||230|
|Tennessee rushing defense vs. North Texas rushing offense||60||162.1||75||165.8||BG||SC/AR||BG||SC/AR||130|
|Tennessee passing defense vs. North Texas passing offense||81||239.6||107||180.1||None||SC/GA||None||SC/GA||
|Tennessee scoring offense vs. North Texas scoring defense||34||35.1||125||45.6||None||AR/KY||None||AR/KY||52|
|Tennessee scoring defense vs. North Texas scoring offense||58||24.9||117||17.6||None||SC/KY||None||SC/KY||10|