Tennessee goes back out on the road Saturday to face a South Carolina team which has beaten the Vols the past two seasons.
Unfortunately for Tennessee, it limps into this game off a 58-21 thrashing from Alabama, but even more importantly on the heels of the news that star offensive lineman Trey Smith is out indefinitely after doctors re-discovered blood clots in his lungs.
Will Tennessee pull off the road upset as an eight-point underdog?
Conner Knapp: South Carolina 27, Tennessee 23
The loss of Trey Smith has a lot to do with my pick.
Tennessee is definitely good enough to win this game, but it is going to be throwing a patchwork offensive line out there for presumably the rest of the season, but certainly against a pretty good South Carolina team on the road at night.
I think the Vols will need a great defensive performance to beat the Gamecocks and I’m just not sure they get it.
Terry Lambert: Tennessee 23, South Carolina 20
Even with the loss of Trey Smith, I’m rolling with the Vols on Saturday. I really wish that Alabama game didn’t happen when it did, because this team seemed to really be turning a corner. The Alabama blowout shouldn’t change that feeling. That’s a lot more about how great they are than how bad Tennessee is.
Turnover-prone quarterback Jake Bentley will face a defense that is coming along nicely. They forced four fumbles against Georgia and have back to back games with a defensive touchdown now under their belt. Pruitt is starting to work his magic on that side of the ball. As long as Tennessee has a decent day on offense, I think the Vols find a way to get the job done.
Noah Taylor: South Carolina 24, Tennessee 19
Like both of these programs, I am fighting for bowl eligibility in my picks this season and that’s why I’m going with the Gamecocks.
Like Conner, the loss of Trey Smith on already struggling offensive line is going to have an impact on a Tennessee offense that took a beating versus Alabama last week.
While Keller Chryst looked promising after tossing for two touchdowns, coming in after Jarrett Guarantano went down in the 2nd quarter, the quarterback position will also be one to look out for if the line cannot protect whoever is the signal caller on Saturday night.
Evan Winter: South Carolina 20, Tennessee 12
I was very confident heading into this game despite South Carolina coming off a bye week. However, I’m not sure how the Vols will on offense without Trey Smith.
His loss is a big deal, there is no hiding it. The good news is that he missed all of spring and fall camp, so whoever takes his place will most likely have practiced with this group before.
I need to see what this offense can do without Smith before I pick the Vols to win any games.
Austin Burlage: South Carolina 31, Tennessee 20
This is a game I had circled since the start of the season. I really felt like the Gamecocks were over-hyped heading into this season, and this would be a great chance for an improving Vols team to sneak away from Columbia with a win. So far, it seems like these predictions have been accurate. South Carolina has lost each of their games against ranked opponents, and were even edged out by Missouri at home. The Vols have certainly improved each week of the season, with a recent upset road win against Auburn serving as proof.
The problem? Tennessee just got unfortunate news that may lead to a significant regression. Unfortunately, Trey Smith will be out indefinitely (and we all hope for a speedy and complete recovery). A newly constructed offensive line with a short amount of time to prepare for an SEC defense on the road is not promising. I’m expecting a gigantic effort to come up just a bit short.