CFN Preview: South Carolina vs. Tennessee
Tennessee (3-5) at South Carolina (5-3), 7:00 EST ESPN2
Why to watch: There are games that change around a program and games that define programs, but this one could be the difference between a new regime and the status quo for Tennessee. Just when it seemed like things were about to turn around with a 34-3 win over Mississippi State, the Vols were slapped back into reality by Alabama with a 29-9 home loss. With a layup against Wyoming and the traditional East lightweights (although not necessarily this year) Vanderbilt and Kentucky to close, the chance is there to go on a four-game run to end the regular season and potentially save Phil Fulmer's job. A blowout loss in Columbia could mean the job search will be on.
For South Carolina, a win would get things back on track after a tough home loss to LSU two weeks ago. The team was just starting to play well with a four-game winning streak before the loss, and with Arkansas coming up next, the Gamecocks could get hot again in a hurry with a win this week.
Why Tennessee might win: South Carolina likes to give the ball away, and the Tennessee secondary likes to take it. The safety combination of Eric Berry and Demetrice Morley is the best in America and it's been great at making plays when the ball is in the air. Of the 15 takeaways the Vols have come up with this year, 14 were interceptions including fourth quarter pick sixes from both Berry and Morley against Mississippi State. South Carolina has turned it over 23 times this year with 15 interceptions. The Vols should take away at least two passes.
Why South Carolina might win: Tennessee has the nation's 112th ranked offense, averaging a measly 281 yards per game. The attack has scored more than 14 just once in the last six games and isn't showing any passing game whatsoever. South Carolina might not just shut down the Vol offense, it could shut it out. The Gamecocks are a brick wall against the pass and are fourth in the nation in total defense allowing just 256 yards and 16 points per game. This isn't going to be the week the Tennessee offense starts to play like it has Peyton Manning, Jamal Lewis and Carl Pickens running the show. The Volunteer passing game could be downright painful to watch.
Who to watch: With all the talk about a quarterback controversy, and with Stephen Garcia taking over, the biggest issue for South Carolina could be the running game. Mike Davis has had problems with his knee, and top backup Eric Baker suffered a concussion. If these two can't go, or try to go and can't last, it'll be up to true freshman Kenny Miles, who is supposed to redshirt this year. The coaching staff really, really doesn't want to burn a whole season because there aren't any other rushing options.
What will happen: Tennessee is catching South Carolina at just the right time. The Gamecocks are beaten, battered and bruised, but it won't matter. The USC defense will outplay the Tennessee defense, and Garcia will do enough with his legs as well as his arm to pull off the win.
CFN Prediction: South Carolina 24 - Tennessee 17
Line: South Carolina -6
Must See Rating: (5 RocknRolla – 1 High School Musical 3: Senior Year) … 3
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