Raijon Neal won’t have to carry the work load in the rushing game like he did against Georgia with the return of Marlin Lane (Photo Credit: Kansas.com)
In their last outing the Tennessee Volunteers came up inches short of what would have been the biggest upset of the 2013 college football season.
After fighting back from a 17-3 halftime deficit, the Vols forced then No. 6 Georgia into overtime, but squandered away their chance of victory on a fumble just inches short of the goal line that bounced through the endzone resulting in a touchback.
It was a loss that left a bitter taste in the Vols’ mouths, but they’ve had a week off to put it behind them, regroup and move on.
Tennessee will have another chance at upsetting a ranked opponent when they host the No. 11 South Carolina Gamecocks(5-1, 3-1) on Saturday, October 19, at noon in Neyland Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.
While the Vols will enter Saturday’s matchup with upset on their minds, the Gamecocks are looking to build momentum towards an SEC eastern divisional championship run. After a banged up Georgia fell at home to Missouri a week ago, South Carolina is right back in the hunt to put themselves in the SEC title game for the second time in four years (2010 was their first time playing for the SEC championship since the title game’s conception in 1992).
In order for the Gamecocks to find themselves in Atlanta again, however, they will need to run the time in their next four conference matchups, as well as hope for the ailing Bulldogs to drop one more conference bout to break the head to head tie breaker Georgia currently holds over South Carolina.
For Tennessee it’s all about building towards next season. Already standing 3-3 overall at the midway point in the season, and 0-2 in conference play, the Vols have nothing to lose and everything to gain on Saturday. A loss would put them at 3-4 which is where most expected them to be, but a victory would leave them just two games shy of becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.
First-year head coach Butch Jones is searching a signature win to jumpstart a rebuilding Volunteer program, and a win over a shaky South Carolina bunch could do just that. Over the past few weeks the Gamecocks have had concerns in the quarterback position with Connor Shaw frequently finding himself buried in the dirt, forcing the backup Dylan Thompson to step up and keep the offense running.
South Carolina has also had a little drama on the defensive side of the ball with arguably the nation’s best defensive player Jadeveon Clowney missing a few games due to injured ribs. The controversy there has been the way he has handled the matter of informing “the head ball coach,” about his absence for each game he’s missed. Clowney did return against Arkansas last week, and is expected to play against the Vols as well.
Needless to say, the Gamecocks will need to get their act together if they want to avoid being the latest top 25 team upset this Saturday. Not only are the Vols coming into Saturday’s matchup on a wave of momentum, but Jones has an 8-1 record as a head coach coming off a bye weeks, so he knows how to ensure his team is prepared when giving the extra amount of time.