Tennessee plays BYU this Saturday, for what is the most important game so far of the Jeremy Pruitt era. This game is coming off the heels of what some are calling the worst loss in program history in the season opening loss to Georgia State. A team that had never defeated a power 5 opponet and finished 2-10 in the SunBelt last year. Some fans are now calling for Pruitt’s job and most including myself are questioning the direction that this program is heading towards. This is a preview for the BYU game yes, but I feel it’s important to set the stage for this critical game. Because if the Vols even want to think about making a bowl they need to get a win against the Cougars this Saturday.
Who are They?
BYU happens to also be coming off a big loss. In their home opener they lost 30 to 12 against their most hated rival Utah in the “Holy War.” The cougars are led by 4th year head coach Kalani Sitake. So far he’s been the definition of average, with a 20-20 overall record. Last season they went 7-6 with a bowl win over Western Michigan. He does have a history of leading his team into hostile environments and pulling out big wins. Last year they went into Camp Randall and upset a top 10 Wisconsin team when no one gave them a chance going in.
Zach Wilson is entering his second season as the starting QB and has torched some defenses in the past. Versus Western Michigan he threw for over 300 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. People are calling him the “Mormon Manziel” which is just great for Tennessee, because they struggle at defending pretty much anything but especially mobile quarterbacks. Last week Dan Ellington ran for over 60 yards and threw 2 touchdowns. But on the bright side, he is coming off of a game where he only found the end zone when he was throwing two pick six’s versus Utah. They don’t have much of a running game, but that could’ve been because last week they were going up against one of the best D-lines in the nation. So now that they’re facing one of the worst D-lines Tennessee has ever put on the field it could be a different story.
Defensively last year they averaged letting up 27 points a game and had one of the worst run defenses in all of college football. They didn’t allow much yards through the air, but that could’ve had something to do with teams being too busy running the ball on them. Either way running shouldn’t be too easy for Tennessee with their still below average offensive line. I expect through for the Vols to be able to move the ball somewhat well on the ground though. Hopefully with less fumbles than last Saturday.
All together this game could go either way. There’s not one outcome that would surprise me. Tennessee could win by 20 or lose by 20, there’s really no way tell what team will show up on Saturday for the Vols. If they play anything like they did in the Georgia state game they’ll get boat raced, but if they come out ready and prepared it could be an entirely different team. Since I can’t really get a feel for this game, my best bet is that it’ll be close going into the 4th quarter and one team pulls away. I think it’ll be Tennessee but I’m not confident.
Prediction: BYU 31 Vols 33