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Tennessee Football Opponent Preview: LSU Tigers

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Tennessee will take its final stab at a bowl game with Brady Hoke at the helm.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

After posting a 4-6 record through 10 games without an SEC win, Butch Jones was fired as Tennessee’s head football coach.

When the Vols return home to take on the LSU Tigers, Brady Hoke will be the interim head coach looking to keep Tennessee’s bowl hopes alive.

LSU comes into this game ranked No. 20 in the College Football Playoff rankings with an offense that is rolling. Beating this team will be a tough task for the Vols, but maybe an interim head coach will give Tennessee the spark it needs to pull off the upset.

Overview

LSU had a pretty shaky start to its season, starting 3-2 with a 30-point loss to Mississippi State and a homecoming loss to Troy. Since then, LSU is 4-1 with its only loss on the road to Alabama.

LSU’s signature win this season came when it erased a 20-0 deficit to defeat Auburn 27-23. LSU did not allow Auburn to score in the second half.

LSU has probably the top running back in the SEC in Derrius Guice and a defense which does not appear overly impressive on paper but which has certainly kept the Tigers in games.

Last Game

LSU defeated Arkansas 33-10 in what was somehow the Tigers’ first noon home conference game in six years.

Derrius Guice carried the ball 21 times for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Danny Etling completed 11 of 16 pass attempts for 217 yards and two more touchdowns.

The game was tied 7-7 at halftime, but LSU stepped on the gas in the second half, outscoring Arkansas 26-3.

Impact Players

RB Derrius Guice - Guice is the player everyone knows. He has rushed 164 times for 929 yards and nine touchdowns this season and looks poised to play in the NFL.

RB Darrel Williams - LSU does not just have one running back, however. Williams has rushed for 602 yards and six touchdowns on 117 carries. Tennessee will have to look out for more than one player in LSU’s backfield.

LB Devin White - White leads LSU in tackles with 103 this season, including 8.5 tackles for loss. He will be looking to stop John kelly and the rest of Tennessee’s offense on Saturday.

Game Outlook

On paper, the odds don’t look good for Tennessee in this one. LSU enters the game as a 16.5-point favorite and S&P+ gives LSU a 75% chance to win the game.

However, this will be the first of Tennessee’s final two regular season games under interim head coach Brady Hoke. Does Hoke’s coaching prowess give the Vols a better chance to win than they would have had with Butch Jones? Probably not. But some teams do play better and get a spark under an interim coach.

On the opposite sideline will be LSU’s interim-turned-permanent head coach Ed Orgeron. I have dubbed the matchup between he and Hoke the Football Guy Bowl, as they are both football guys of the highest degree.

On Saturday night, Neyland Stadium will be full of Tennessee fans cheering and hoping for some silver lining to end this season. I expect it to be the best home environment this year. Maybe everything comes together just right on this given Saturday to give Tennessee fans something to cheer for.