November has arrived, and the Tennessee Volunteers are once again forced to win three of their last four football games to find themselves playing that all-important 13th game in January.
Their quest for a bowl birth begins in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday when the Volunteers battle the Gamecocks. What was once a dead rivalry has been rejuvenated since the arrival of Steve Spurrier in Gamecock country in 2005. Tennessee leads the all time series (23-7-2) over the Gamecocks, but since the ole ball coach took the sidelines South Carolina’s record is 5-4. One of Tennessee’s wins came in the first year of the Butch Jones era.
For those that may have forgotten, last year Michael Palardy hit a game-winning field as time expired in Neyland stadium. This game knocked the Gamecocks out of the SEC east title.
This year, South Carolina has been one of the nation’s most inconsistent teams as a preseason top 10 team; the Gamecocks now find themselves at 4-4 and in danger of missing a bowl game.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier understands the urgency of a win this week at home, but knows it won’t come easy. Spurrier said, “Tennessee plays hard, they play with a lot of effort.” South Carolina will need to be very efficient through the air as the Gamecocks rank 30th in the country in passing yards per game. Tennessee’s defense is strong but is very young and inexperienced in the secondary. Look for South Carolina to attack Tennessee through the air early in this game.
Tennessee, known as one of America’s youngest teams, faces a big task on the road. After last week’s 34-20 loss to rival Alabama in Neyland stadium, Tennessee has to go to South Carolina.
This is a crucial stretch for the Vols who must overcome a 3-5 overall record that includes an 0-4 stretch in SEC play. With four winnable games remaining, Tennessee must buckle down.
The Vols have quarterback questions, as Justin Worley will be active but doubtful. Josh Dobbs looks to continue where he left off last week against Alabama and possibly lead Tennessee to their first SEC win of the season.
Like every game this season, Tennessee will have to rely on its defense to make plays and a few turnovers if the Vols want to come out victorious on today. Tennessee coach Butch Jones said this about South Carolina. “They’ll probably be the biggest line we’ve faced thus far.” Tennessee will need defensive captains A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggit to play well and with a passion tonight.
Edited by Will Lomas