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RTT Staff Picks: South Carolina

Will the Vols bounce back against South Carolina in Columbia? While the staff is split on whether Tennessee will cover a 13.5-point spread, they've still achieved significant consensus: seven of the eight pickers like the under, and all eight see the Vols winning by double-digits.

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Last time out was forgettable for both the Vols and our pickers, as only one of the eight picked Alabama to cover what seemed at the time to be a surprisingly large 12-point spread. Closest to the Pin goes to Incipient, whose 41-27 prediction wasn't anywhere close to the 49-10 final score but was the most pessimistic (and thus most accurate) of the eight. On to Columbia, where the Vols look to get back on track against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Will the Vols make good use of their own chance to play as double-digit road favorites? To the picks!

Incipient (6-1 straight up, 5-2 against the spread)
Despite the Gamecocks' struggles defending the run, they have effectively slowed things down and played low scoring games this season--they've yet to allow an opponent to crack 30 points. Based on the Vols' history against teams who wanted low scoring games, don't expect a track meet here. Tennessee desperately needs to avoid an early hole if they don't want to find themselves back in the situation they faced in the season opener against Appalachian State. But after a much-needed bye, I see the Vols taking control early and winning a boring one (for once). Tennessee 24 South Carolina 10

Will (5-2 straight up, 4-3 against the spread): I don't expect anything easy, but I do expect Tennessee to look more like the team we saw against Texas A&M than the one we saw against Alabama. I think a healthy defense can take advantage of South Carolina's offense, though they'll probably still give up a big play or two. And I think Tennessee's offense will continue to look to body-blow teams into opportunities to land their own big plays as the game goes on. I think the Vols get and convert enough of those opportunities to crack Carolina's 30-point barrier just barely. Tennessee 30 South Carolina 17

Joel (6-1 straight up, 3-4 against the spread): Tennessee 33 South Carolina 20

Chris (4-3 straight up, 2-5 against the spread): I went in for 17-6 earlier this week, so no sense in walking that back now. Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football is ...back? I guess? Honestly, I'm holding out for a combined 7 FGs and a safety, with Tennessee surging to an insurmountable 9-0 lead before the triumphant return of Why Can't We Go For The Jugular offensive playcalling, as we fold up shop, tent, caravan, minivan, and conversion van in order to park the bus, double decker bus, short bus (that's when South Carolina gets their FGs), space shuttle, Saturn V rocket, and emergency backup planet to make sure we salt away the win. Tennessee 17 South Carolina 6

Hunter (5-2 straight up, 2-5 against the spread): Based on practice reports, the Vols are expected to have everyone back from injury except Sutton, JRM, and McKenzie. If-- and it's a big if-- that's true, I expect the Tennessee team that takes the field in Columbia to look nothing like the Tennessee team that was blown out in Knoxville. Coach Boom will have his defense prepared for the Vols, but I don't think he has the horsepower to get into a shootout. Tennessee 31 South Carolina 14

Volundore (6-1 straight up, 2-5 against the spread): This game has "Missouri 2015: This Time, It's the Southern Columbia" written all over it. The Vols are down their most explosive piece on offense and South Carolina has already gone Full Muschamp on that side of the ball. As a result, Butch/Debord seem destined to take the low-risk approach. If they execute that to the level they did in COMO, you'll be bored, but never really stressed. That would certainly be preferable to a copy of last year's South Carolina game. . .  Tennessee 23 South Carolina 13

Justin (6-1 straight up, 2-5 against the spread): Lots of talk filling the Knoxville media has focused on recent history - the close games over the last four seasons against the Gamecocks. I'd rather remember Dobbs rolling up approximately 1200 yards in total offense the last time he was in Columbia against South Carolina. These Gamecocks have less talent...and Coach Boom. I'll take Butch Jones' Vols off a bye week over a team that struggled to put away UMass last week. The Vols should be hungry, healthy and ready to start the home-stretch toward Atlanta. This one will not be as close as the locals think it will be. Tennessee 31 South Carolina 14

Trey (5-2 straight up, 3-4 against the spread): If you're taking FPI and the Football Outsiders projections as gospel, Tennessee are odds-on for an upset loss before the end of the season. That may well happen! But it's tough to paint a plausible picture of it being this game. At least on paper, the Vols look like a brutal matchup for a SCar team that's soft in interior run defense and rolling out a true freshman quarterback in his third start. Bentley has looked vaguely competent against powerhouses UMass and East Carolina, but his time in the pocket is about to get much, much briefer (and scarier). COACH BLOOD will manage to make this game unwatchable, but not particularly close. Tennessee 28 South Carolina 10

Rocky Top Talk Staff Average (6-1 straight up, 3-4 against the spread): Tennessee 27 South Carolina 13

Vegas: Tennessee -13.5. Over/under 50.5. Tennessee 32 South Carolina 18