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Staff picks: Tennessee at South Carolina

South Carolina v Florida Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Just two games are left for Tennessee in the regular season — that means just two more opportunities for the Volunteers to leave an impression on the playoff committee. They won’t get a chance to go to Atlanta, so all of their damage has to be done now.

Josh Heupel started his style-point campaign last week against Missouri, putting up 66 points. Can he keep that going this week?

Terry: Tennessee 52, South Carolina 17

South Carolina ranks 78th in total defense. More specifically, the Gamecocks are currently 113th against the run. Tennessee has torched top 20 ranked defenses on the regular, so the setup here seems to be ripe for an explosion.

Shane Beamer’s group seemed to be improving mid-season, but upon further review, it now seems like Kentucky and Texas A&M are just flat out bad. Florida blew them out last week, while Georgia barely had to break a sweat early in the season. Missouri, the team Tennessee just beat 66-24, beat South Carolina 23-10 at Williams-Brice.

Josh Heupel proved last week that he’s shooting for style, and I fully expect him to get his chance to do so here. Tennessee will score as much as they want.

Clint: Tennessee 49, South Carolina 17

Last week, I predicted Tennessee to win. That’s all you need to know. Please, do not go back and read my specific score prediction. That’s unnecessary.

The past two weeks against Georgia and Missouri, I actually went against the rating systems with my picks. I’m going to get back on track and actually go ahead with the systems this time. I’m picking the Volunteers to win and to cover.

I don’t trust South Carolina’s offensive or defensive lines to win battles with any sort of consistency against Tennessee. I think the Volunteers will be able to draw up whatever they want against a South Carolina defense that has woefully underperformed. I could see Spencer Rattler having an okay day if he decides to scramble around. Tennessee’s defense showed a real weakness last week against Missouri in this regard.

But I’m not going to bet on Rattler becoming a star quarterback just because he’s playing Tennessee. Chances are the Gamecocks will struggle against Tennessee’s defense just like they have struggled against almost every other SEC team on their schedule.

Nick: Tennessee 38, South Carolina 21

I feel like this is gonna be a weird game. The Vols are the better team, but beating Tennessee tomorrow would make Shane Beamer and South Carolina’s season.

I hope the offense is more locked in than it was for its last road game, and if so, the Vols take care of business relatively easily.

But if USC “weirds” up this game somehow, and puts a hitch in the UT offense’s giddy up early, the game may very well get interesting.

Matthew: Tennessee 41, South Carolina 13

One thing is for sure, and it’s that Williams-Brice is going to be loud on Saturday night. However it won’t be for long. A sandstorm is coming by way of Knoxville.

South Carolina has been struggling mightily lately while Tennessee is out for something to prove to the committee. The Vols lead the SEC in scoring offense and are coming off a week where they hung 66 on Missouri.

That wasn’t without its struggles, however, and Tennessee needs to pick it up defensively. Luckily for them, they’re going to face one of the SECs lesser offenses where, if you stop their running game, you stop them altogether.

South Carolina is unbeaten when they rush for over 170 yards. They’re 1-4 when they fail to crack 100. This should play into the Vols’ strengths, and I have Tennessee rolling in their penultimate conference game.