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Bye Week Rooting Guide for Tennessee fans

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No Tennessee football this week, but still a good batch of other games.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee football will get a much needed rest this weekend, before playing the Kentucky Wildcats on November 6th. The Volunteers currently sit at 4-4 overall heading into the bye week. A bowl game still looks very likely, with South Alabama and Vanderbilt remaining on the schedule. They could also steal one from Kentucky, or maybe even Georgia if things get really weird.

But in the meantime, there won’t be any big developments this weekend. That’s right, you can relax and enjoy your Halloween without any potential stress of Tennessee football!

But in case you do want to keep watching college football, we’ve got a list of SEC and non-conference matchups that will pique your interest. If you need someone to get attached to for this weekend, look no further.

SEC Conference Games (Odds via DraftKings SportsBook)

Missouri (-16.5) at Vanderbilt (3:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

Tennessee fans should want a Missouri victory for two reasons.

One, it makes Tennessee’s dominant win over the Tigers look better.

Two, just to be safe, the Volunteers want Vanderbilt to be truly broken by the time they play in November. There is a high likelihood that the Vanderbilt game will determine Tennessee’s bowl eligibility. The Commodores do not need any confidence boosts. Yes, Tennessee will still almost certainly beat them, even if they show some improvement. But that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

No. 1 Georgia vs. Florida (+14) (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

While I understand why Tennessee fans want to see the higher ranked team go down, I’ll say that the long term outlook probably means they should want Florida to get stomped.

My argument is this: Georgia losing does not significantly alter Tennessee’s program trajectory. The Bulldogs are already steamrolling people in both recruiting and on-field performance this year. For something to seriously change, they would need to have an unforeseen losing streak to end the year. They won’t be unseated with just one loss.

But if Florida loses, the creeping doubt about Dan Mullen will only get stronger. As the SEC losses pile up, it hinders Florida’s ability to both recruit, and maintain their placement in the SEC pecking order. While Tennessee still has a ways to go to pass them, they have made large strides, and could very well be competing at a higher level in 2022. They are also closer to Tennessee right now than Georgia. It’s simply a game of leap frog.

No. 10 Ole Miss (+3) at No. 18 Auburn (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Pretty easy choice here. Tennessee fans certainly don’t want to see Ole Miss and Lane Kiffin have much more success. There’s also no real beef with Auburn at this point. Ever since Gus Malzahn moved on, Auburn and Tennessee have not really engaged in recruiting battles. Could a solid first year by Bryan Harsin change that equation?

Alternatively, if Kiffin keeps winning, does that make him a more enviable target for the open college coaching jobs? Ultimately, if it doesn’t really affect Tennessee all that much, you should just cheer for the most chaos/who you like the most. In this case, I assume most will not cheer for Kiffin. Therefore, War Eagle!

No. 12 Kentucky (-1.5) at Mississippi State (7:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

I’m actually going to say that Tennessee fans should hope Mississippi State wins this one.

The main reason being: Kentucky is riding a bit of an emotional high right now. If that continues, they could be extremely motivated by the time they match up with Tennessee in November. That game is already going to be a very tough one for the Volunteers, so it would be better if Kentucky was knocked down a few pegs by the time the game rolls around. If the Volunteers win, they might also have a slightly better chance at winning some of the recruiting battles against Kentucky.

Top-25 Matchups

No. 6 Michigan (-4) vs. No. 8 Michigan State (12:00 p.m. ET, Fox)

There is actually a clear choice here for Tennessee fans! Tennessee is currently fighting Michigan for multiple recruits. That includes 5-star defensive tackle Walter Nolen, 4-star athlete Kody Jones, 3-star linebacker Joshua Josephs, and more. The Wolverines made serious headway into the region in previous years. Some of that headway was done by Tennessee’s current linebackers coach, Brian Jean-Mary, who was with Michigan for the 2020 season.

The Wolverines are currently undefeated, so a loss to Michigan State would be another hit against Jim Harbaugh‘s lukewarm tenure. Perhaps it could help Tennessee in those recruiting battles? Either way, fan should want the Spartans to pull it out.

No. 20 Penn State at No. 5 Ohio State (-18.5) (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

This one on the other hand…go with your gut. I guess it depends on what you think of James Franklin. If you hate him from the Vanderbilt days, go ahead and cheer for a Penn State loss. If you’re neutral on him, it’s always nice to see Ohio State get dethroned.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See DraftKings.com/sportsbook for details.