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Tennessee - South Carolina: RTT Staff Predictions

Is this the year Butch Jones beats Will Muschamp?

NCAA Football: Tennessee at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee has a bad taste in its mouth after stewing for two weeks over the worst home loss in the history of Neyland Stadium suffered at the hands of Georgia. The Volunteers return to action on Saturday as they will square off against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Knoxville.

Can Butch Jones finally clear the hurdle of beating Will Muschamp? Here’s what our staff thinks.

Conner Knapp: South Carolina 27, Tennessee 23

(Season record 4-1)

I want to pick Tennessee. But there are simply too many unknowns with the Vols - on both sides of the ball - for me to feel comfortable doing so.

Jarrett Guarantano will be making his first career start for Tennessee in an SEC game against a defense which scored three touchdowns a week ago. And on defense for the Volunteers, starting defensive end Darrell Taylor is suspended indefinitely.

I think South Carolina has the better quarterback and defense heading into this matchup and that will be the difference.

Noah Taylor: South Carolina 28, Tennessee 17

(Season record 4-1)

Tennessee had an extra week between them and their match up with South Carolina to chew on a 41-0 loss to Georgia. While Butch Jones and players proclaimed it to be one of the best bye weeks they have ever had, it didn’t come without its share of drama.

First, there was the announcement of starting defense end Darrell Taylor’s indefinite suspension due to a fight in practice with Trey Smith. Then, Butch Jones declared redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano the starting quarterback over Dormady. Add in the plethora of unfounded rumors and “hot seat” talk, the bye week was anything but quite. Have these served as distractions heading into what could be a season defining game against South Carolina?

I feel like the bye week, as well as an added boost with Guarantano as the head signal caller will make this a close one. But, in the end I think it will be the QB play of Jake Bentley and a surging South Carolina defense that will help the Gamecocks leave Knoxville with a win.

Terry Lambert: South Carolina 30, Tennessee 13

(Season record 4-1)

Tennessee is in trouble. Butch Jones knows he has to change things up this week. The problem is, they might just not have the pieces it takes this year. He’s rolling with Jarrett Guarantano this week, so I’m guessing we see an uptick in the read-option game. I still don’t think it’s going to be enough. South Carolina knows what’s coming.

Will Muschamp is undefeated against Butch Jones and he has the better team. I think he keeps that record going on Saturday with a convincing win.

Evan Winter: Tennessee 27, South Carolina 13

(Season record: 5-0)

The off week couldn't have come at a better time for Tennessee. Not only did the make the necessary adjustments that are best for the team (Guarantano for Dormady), but it gave the team an extra week to reflect on what needs to be done to keep this season alive.

Can Guarantano be the key to get the offense going? Will the defense show up for four quarters? Will Butch Jones get his first victory against Will Muschamp? It won't be easy, but I think all these questions get answered with a resounding "yes" this weekend.