Monthly Magazine: Tennessee Edition

September 25, 2023

Can the Vols Outshine the Gamecocks?

© Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Conference play gets underway on Saturday for the Volunteers, with the Gamecocks coming to Knoxville. At 3-1 overall, the matchup provides a great opportunity for Tennessee to get off to a good start in the SEC.

South Carolina is coming off a 37-30 win over Mississippi State, but the Gamecocks are just 2-2 on the season. They lost 24-14 to Georgia on Sept. 16 and also lost their season opener, falling 31-17 to North Carolina. They picked up a 47-21 win over Furman in the second week of the season.

The Vols’ lone loss of the season came two weeks ago, as they were dominated 29-16 by Florida. Their wins came against Virginia, Appalachian State and UT-San Antonio. That’s not exactly a string of good wins.

So what kind of team is Tennessee this season? They’ll start to find out on Saturday.

What to like about the Vols…

  • Tennessee is extremely balanced on offense. They’re averaging 234.0 yards per game through the air, while also racking up 229.5 yards on the ground. Joe Milton III has thrown for 925 yards and eight touchdowns through four games, while Jaylen Wright has 312 yards on 45 carries this season. The Volunteers keep the opposing defense on its toes.
  • South Carolina is surrendering a gaudy amount of yards, giving up an average 0f 434.5 per game. They’ve mostly be gashed through the air, with opposing offenses putting up 317.0 passing yards per game. That should create plenty of opportunities for Milton and company. Meanwhile, Tennessee is only giving up 302.0 yards per game, given the Volunteers a clear advantage on that side of the ball.

What not to like about the Vols…

  • Two weeks ago, the Gamecocks went into Athens and gave the No. 1 team in the country everything they could handle. South Carolina led Georgia 14-3 at halftime, before getting outscored 21-0 after intermission. They won’t be intimidated by Neyland Stadium, having just been an even more hostile environment just two weeks ago.
  • Spencer Rattler is a big-time quarterback. The senior is off to a great start this season for South Carolina, racking up 1,242 yards and seven touchdowns through four games. He’s also avoided mistakes for the most part, having thrown just two interceptions, both of which came at Georgia. He’s the reason why the Gamecocks are averaging 340.0 yards per game through the air.

Bud Parmalee’s Pick: South Carolina +11.5 (-110)

Tennessee should get their SEC slate off to a good start. They should move to 4-1 overall on the season. But it won’t be easy. South Carolina kept things close against Georgia two weeks ago in Athens. They can certainly do the same thing this time around in Knoxville. Rattler is a better quarterback that Milton, which gives the road team a puncher’s chance in this one.