Tennessee vs. South Carolina – Volquest staff picks

Tennessee returns to the streets to impress at a Saturday night fling in Columbia, South Carolina. The Vols stayed 9-1 in 5th place in the college football playoff standings this week, and with plenty of football left to play across the country, Josh Heupel’s club is in a good position. Quarterback Hendon Hooker, who had 405 offensive yards in a 66-24 win over Missouri last week, is looking to step up his Heisman Trophy campaign.

Meanwhile, South Carolina is trying to get back on track after losing 2 of their last 3, including Florida’s 38-6 handling last week.

Volquest staff vote with their weekly picks.

Brent’s choice

Last week I missed Missouri’s overall score by 7 and Tennessee by 24. I’m obviously terrible at score predictions.

Here’s what I know about this game this week – Vols wins.

Tennessee has too much to offer. Tennessee is a football team that keeps improving individually, and that makes them better on both sides of the ball. You’re watching Brandon Turnage’s game over the past few weeks. Dylan Sampson’s game last week and Tennessee continues to grow.

I think the Vols are handling the crowd noise better this week than they did in Georgia. I think they’re playing better left tackle this week than last week, and I don’t see Spencer Rattler running for 100 yards, which was basically Missouri’s only run a week ago.

Shane Beamer will take risks. He rolls the fourth down and the kicking game. Tennessee needs to be prepared for something like this.

But South Carolina gave up over 500 yards to Florida last week. They made the Gators run more than 300 meters. The Gamecocks are fighting the run, which will mean a one-on-one opportunity on the outside as Carolina will need to use more body at the line of scrimmage to stop the run.

The Vols are on a mission to impress, and aiming for an 11-win season is a big goal for this team.

volumes roll

Tennessee 52 South Carolina 17

Austin’s choice

I think it’s going to be a slugfest. South Carolina is no good. Tennessee has so much to play and is motivated.

Over the years, it’s been a place where Tennessee has lost games to Columbia leading to changes like 1992 and 2008. Then there’s 2016, where they lost first place in the East.

Nobody loses their job and the East is decided. And this Gamecock team, unlike teams of the past, has no overall talent.

Jalin Hyatt will try to put on a show in his hometown while chasing more records. Hendon Hooker will be looking to keep the momentum going in an upcoming Heisman campaign.

Defensively, the Vols simply have to leave the field. South Carolina doesn’t have either of the two biggest traffic jams and is a bit of a battle bus.

Vols lead early and often as they roll toward Nashville next week.

Tennessee 56 South Carolina 20

Eric’s choice

South Carolina really struggled a season ago doing two things: earning points and defending the run. While the Gamecocks have improved in one respect — it’s still not great at 28 points per game — they’re averaging a touchdown + a two-point conversion less in the SEC game. These games took place against Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Florida.

And defending the run has been a TRIP for South Carolina this season. Shane Beamer’s club has conceded more than 200 rushing yards to opponents in five games this season. That mark includes an amazing 374 yards to the Gators this past weekend.

Simply put, Tennessee should definitely roll on this one.

As far as I know it’s a street night game playing SEC football. It’s never easy and over the years the Vols haven’t made it easy for themselves. But in all but four games this season, the Vols played their game and didn’t get in their own way. Scoring early and silencing this I’m sure rioting crowd is key.

South Carolina also scores only 66 percent of touchdowns on trips to the red zone. Bottom line, I expect Tennessee to come out and do what it did this season. And when the opportunity arises, Tennessee should keep pouring it out. Will it make a difference in the end? I do not know. But what I do know is that Tennessee is not a given for the CFB Playoffs, so once again I would leave no doubt about that.

Tennessee 55, South Carolina 17

Grant’s choice

This feels like the final hurdle. Don’t get me wrong, Tennessee still has business to attend to at Vanderbilt in the regular-season finals next week. But, sorry Vandy, South Carolina seems to be the last real hurdle this Tennessee team will have to overcome.

The college football playoff talk when it comes to Tennessee focuses on the fact that Ohio State and Michigan play each other next week that TCU still finish their last three games, including the Big 12 championship game, 3-0 must, and so on. It would be seemingly impossible for LSU to skip the Vols even if the Tigers beat Georgia in Atlanta in the SEC title game.

And, of course, all of this is assuming Tennessee is doing its business. The Vols did so on Saturday on Senior Day against Missouri. In the third quarter it was a bit nervous for a minute. Then, in the blink of an eye, Tennessee scored 38 straight points and had 66 on the board when Joe Milton III came into play and Uncle Rico took the Vols off the field with back-to-back possessions.

South Carolina isn’t that great. Vegas opened with Tennessee as a nearly three-touchdown favorite for a reason. Since Sunday, the line has grown to 21 points in some sportsbooks. The Gamecocks won four straight games, including a 30-24 win over Texas A&M at home. But the same South Carolina team lost 23-10 at home to Missouri and lost 38-6 in Florida last week. And the Aggies are clearly trash, having now lost six straight games.

Despite it. night game. On road. It’s never easy. But I haven’t seen anything from this Tennessee team that would lead me to believe the Vols won’t be able to handle the situation. There’s just too much at stake and we’ve seen too much of this squad in the last 10 games.

Tennessee 48, South Carolina 20

Rob’s choice

It’s dangerous in college football to look back at the past week and predict what might happen this week, but man, South Carolina looked like a dead team in a 38-6 loss in Florida last week that saw the Gamecocks not a single offensive could cope with landing.

At the risk of oversimplifying things, this seems easy to me. South Carolina can’t score. They averaged 20.7 points in the SEC game. Tennessee can easily score against everyone but Georgia. The Vols averaged 42.2 points per game in SEC play.

In the SEC game, South Carolina ranks last in the revenue range at -7. Tennessee ranks third at +5. Tennessee doesn’t need extra possessions to score a lot of points, but if you give them to them, you’re in trouble.

South Carolina can’t stop the run, and if you can’t do that against this Tennessee team, it’s going to be a long day. When the Vols can balance down and distance and stay on schedule, the offensive pace really starts to strain opposing defenses. That will happen Saturday night in Columbia against a running defense abused by SEC misdemeanor.

Tennessee destroyed South Carolina last year and this year’s version of the Gamecocks doesn’t look like they’ve improved.

The Hooker for Heisman campaign is running this weekend and Jalin Hyatt will have a field day against his state home school.

Tennessee 52, South Carolina 20