Each week, the two sports editors and football beat writers at The Daily Beacon, Andrew Peters and Eric Woods, give their keys and predictions to Tennessee’s upcoming football matchup.
This week, the No. 5 Vols begin their two-game road trip to close out the season as they take on South Carolina.
1. Manage crowd noise
We have already seen Tennessee horribly manage crowd noise once this season on the road against Georgia. While WIlliams-Brice Stadium doesn’t boast the same atmosphere, it is known as one of the tougher places to play in the SEC.
Tennessee will have a great opportunity to prove it can handle crowd noise and it starts with eliminating sloppy penalties like false starts. The Vols’ offensive line has been great all season, but it couldn’t stop getting false starts against Georgia. If the Vols can deal with crowd noise, that is a step in the right direction.
2. Run up score
Despite what some might say, scoring a lot of points impresses the College Football Playoff Committee. The Vols' fate is out of their control, but the one thing they can do is continue showing the CFP Committee how dominant they are.
If Tennessee posts another 60+ point game on a tough SEC opponent, it will be just another reminder of how good its offense is. Let Hendon Hooker get his numbers, pick up a big lead and then bring in Joe Milton and the secondaries to get some reps in.
1. Spread the ball around
No, this hasn’t been a problem for the Tennessee offense, but South Carolina boasts a very talented cornerback prospect in Cam Smith. Smith is going to hunt for the chance to shut Jalin Hyatt down. Josh Heupel has been able to find ways to get Hyatt wide open, but if Smith has his eyes on him at all times, then that might not happen.
That will only leave more room for the rest of the Vol receivers to go to work. Bru McCoy had 100 yards last week, and Ramel Keyton has had some big days as well. Cedric Tillman has yet to have a big game since he’s been back. If Tillman is going to get going this season, today is the day.
2. Win the turnover battle
Surprising things can happen when a team with nothing to lose gets a glimpse of hope. The Gamecocks boast some talent such as quarterback Spencer Rattler. We have yet to see Rattler impress this season, but he could very well do some damage if he gets confident.
If the Vols can force some early turnovers while playing their usual mistake-free football, then they won’t have many issues with this team.
Spread: Tennessee -22.5
South Carolina has always proved to be a challenge for Tennessee. The Gamecocks have gotten the best of even the better Tennessee teams. This year’s Vols team is in a completely different league than South Carolina, however. The Vols should have no trouble with the Gamecocks and will move on to 10-1 before closing out the season with Vanderbilt next week.
Tennessee 55, South Carolina 21
South Carolina could make things difficult for Tennessee, but ultimately the Vols will likely pull away. The Gamecocks play their best when they are able to push teams away from their style of game, which is something that only Georgia has done this season. It is unlikely for that to be the case, and I expect the Vols to win big.
Tennessee 52, South Carolina 14