The last two games between the Tennessee Volunteers and the South Carolina Gamecocks have been nail biters, so it would only be natural to expect the same thing again this year. But looking at the numbers this season seems to suggest that the last two years may have just been two teams high-fiving each other out the window as they traveled in opposite directions. This year's version of the Gamecocks will be the the worst rushing defense the Vols have seen so far this season. It will also be the worst passing offense and the worst scoring offense we've seen so far. And all of that has us salivating at the idea of laughing our way through another third quarter.
I'm not saying we'll actually enjoy something like what we saw against Kentucky last week, but I do think the Vols should win this one fairly easily, provided they do the following.
Don't gameplan your way into a close game. Yes, this is my first point from last week verbatim. The Vols aren't yet to the point where they can just come out with an average ordinary gameplan and focus and expect to run away from anyone. But if they can continue stoking that desire to dominate, they should be able to at least get the win. So continue to utilize Dobbs on designed runs, call a smart and aggressive game designed to keep the defense guessing, and continue to win field position and special teams.
Run, run, run, run, run. Again, the same point from last week verbatim. The Vols have an extremely powerful and reliable run game, and the numbers to date suggest that the Gamecocks will offer the least resistance of the season. Expecting 300 yards on the ground is not unreasonable.
Don't overfocus on the passing game or Pharoh Cooper. CONTROVERSY ALERT. SOUND THE SIRENS. Will's put out the numbers, and we talked about this on the podcast last night, but here's the gist: Pharoh Cooper is all kinds of awesome and gets like 90% of Carolina's passing yards. So you'd think that what you should do is take away Cooper and call it a day. But here's the thing. The Gamecocks aren't putting up a lot of passing yards per game. They're doing better running the ball. So if it were me, I wouldn't devote too much of the game plan to stopping Cooper. Play him straight up with Cam Sutton, expect him to do some great things, and expect it not to be enough to beat you. But have a Plan B ready to go just in case, because the dude is fantastic.
My prediction? Tennessee 45, South Carolina 20.
Here's the comparison chart. Tennessee is currently tied for second on the list of toughest schedules. Kentucky is 63rd. If you're interested in advanced stats, you can find them here (Tennessee's | South Carolina's). They predict Tennessee 39, South Carolina 20.
|Comps||Result against Comps||Guess|
|Closest Lower||Closest Higher||Closest Lower||Closest Higher|
|Tennessee rushing offense vs. South Carolina rushing defense||21||214.1||111||215.3||None||KY||None||KY||300|
|Tennessee passing offense vs. South Carolina passing defense||81||210||58||215.3||KY||AL||KY||AL||200|
|Tennessee rushing defense vs. South Carolina rushing offense||62||163.1||59||178.8||BG||AL||BG||AL||120|
|Tennessee passing defense vs. South Carolina passing offense||80||240.3||102||186.1||None||GA/AL||None||GA/AL||220|
|Tennessee scoring offense vs. South Carolina scoring defense||27||36.1||69||27.4||BG/KY||AR||BG/KY||AR||45|
|Tennessee scoring defense vs. South Carolina scoring offense||50||24.3||105||21.4||None||KY||None||KY||20|