After eight games of mostly stress, Tennessee did whatever they wanted to our FCS friends from Cookeville. And Arkansas made sure the Vols went two-for-two today.
In Knoxville, the Vols finally started fast: John Kelly ran for nine yards, Josh Dobbs hit Josh Malone for seven yards, then Dobbs and Malone went downtown for 30 yards and a touchdown. On the next drive Dobbs hit Malone for 18, Kelly for 11, and Malone for 43 and another touchdown on another three-play drive. On the next drive John Kelly went 73 yards on the first snap.
Dobbs would exit late in the second quarter with a 12-of-13 for 183 yards and three touchdowns performance. Kelly needed only seven carries to get 104 yards. Malone had 112 yards and two scores on five catches. The Vols were able to pull the starters, as much as they are able in this injury-filled season: Todd Kelly Jr. had to play the entire game at safety with Micah Abernathy and Evan Berry banged up. But the backups did just fine as well: Quinten Dormady was 9-of-13 for 109 yards, Brandon Johnson caught five passes for 64 yards, and 11 different players caught passes. Meanwhile the defense held Tennessee Tech to 224 total yards and the Vols rolled 55-0.
In Fayetteville, Arkansas used an early pick six to get in front and then bludgeoned the #BDN for 466 yards and 6.2 yards per play, just behind the 6.3 the Vols got against the Gators. The Florida offense scored zero touchdowns and the Hogs ran away 31-10.
So now, facing serious questions about their offense, the Gators will host South Carolina in Will Muschamp’s return to The Swamp, then travel to LSU. If the Gators lose one of those two and Tennessee beats Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt, the Vols will win the SEC East.
And in Lexington, Kentucky and Georgia are kicking off with a chance for the Wildcats to take a temporary lead in the SEC East at 5-2 with a win. Next Saturday will be a big opportunity for Tennessee regardless of tonight’s outcome. But if Kentucky wins, next Saturday could be for the East title if the Gators fall again.
There’s a lot of football left, but Arkansas ensured it would be meaningful in this division. And Tennessee didn’t waste its chance to stretch its legs. As a result, next week the Vols will play a mid-November game still alive in the SEC East for the first time in nine years.