KEYS TO THE GAME:
TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (3-2, 0-3 SEC)
Tennessee is going to have to play their absolute best game in order to be able to have a chance to beat the Tigers. They won't be able to make any errors all day. A game-changing play in the special teams game may be what the Volunteers need to show LSU they can play with the No. 1 team in the country. Matt Simms must be spot on and the Vols corners can't get run by this week. They can't afford to give up any big plays.
NO. 1 LSU TIGERS (6-0, 3-0 SEC)
LSU has superior talent and should outmatch Tennessee in almost every area of the game. They will need to play to their potential and not play down to Tennessee. It will be important for the Tigers to pressure Matt Simms early and dominate the Vols on defense. The more confidence they can steal from the Vols early the better.
— UT is 11-2-1 vs. LSU in Knoxville, and this year's meeting is only the fourth in Knoxville since 1993.
— LSU is No. 1 in the nation in the AP poll. Tennessee is 2-8 all-time when playing the top-ranked team, including 1-0 vs. a top-ranked LSU team.
— A Tennessee win would improve the Vols to 4-2 for the first time since 2007. A win would also improve UT to 1-2 in the SEC.
— A LSU win would make the Tigers 7-0 on the season and improve them to 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference.
— LSU has scored first in five of the last six meetings between the two teams.
— LSU has held Tennessee under 100 yards rushing every game since 2005 accept for last season in Baton Rouge when the Vols rushed for 109 yards.
Matt Simms — 5-8, 57 yds., 0 TD/0 INT
Tauren Poole — 78 att., 325 yds., 1 TD
Da'Rick Rogers — 32 catches, 513 yds., 6 TD
Mychal Rivera — 19 catches, 248 yds., 1 TD
Jarrett Lee - 71-118, 947 yds., 8 TD/1 INT
Spencer Ware - 105 att., 432 yds., 5 TD
Rueben Randle - 23 catches, 446 yds., 4 TD
Odell Beckham, Jr. - 20 catches, 268 yds., 2 TD
— Tennessee owns a 20-8-3 edge in the all-time series but has lost three consecutive since 2006, all of which have been decided by seven points or fewer.
— A Tennessee win would give the Vols their first win over a No. 1-ranked team since Sept. 28, 1985 (UT 38, #1 Auburn 20).
— Matt Simms will be making his first start of the 2011 season in place on the injured Tyler Bray (broken thumb).
— Tennessee tight end Mychal Rivera ranks third among Division-1 tight ends with 19 catches, sixth with 248 reception yards.
— Tennessee has converted on 40 of its 71 third-down opportunities (56.3 during 2011 putting the Vols as 90.9% percent), which is fourth in the NCAA.
WHAT A WIN MEANS:
For Tennessee, a win would be an epic upset and would likely insight riots in the middle of Knoxville. Derek Dooley would finally have his big-time signature win. Saturday's game is truly David vs. Goliath. The Vols stand little change, but if they can get it done then Knoxville better be ready to party.
For the Tigers, a win is exactly what should happen. They shouldn't lose to the Vols and a loss would be an epic collapse. If they do what they are suppose to it keeps them on track to their big-time slug fest with Alabama in November, a game that should have National Title implication.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Matt Simms (senior, quarterback)
Matt Simms is making the start for the first time in 2011, just in time for the No. 1 team in the country. Simms was asked over the summer who he would like to get a chance to play this season, his answer: LSU. He got his wish.
Simms will have to play extremely well in order for the Vols to have a chance to play with LSU. Simms has some big shoes to fill left by Tyler Bray, who was on track for an All-SEC season.
Michael Palardy (sophomore, place kicker)
One thing is for certain, when you are playing the No. 1 team in the country you can't afford errors in the special teams game.
Michael Palardy certainly can't miss an extra point against the Tigers if Tennessee is going to play with LSU. Point are going to be at a premium and Palardy will need to sink every thing he looks at Saturday afternoon.
Devrin Young (freshman, return specialist/running back)
With Tennessee greatly outmatched all across the field they may need a spark on special teams to get in the game.
Young has shown great promise in his first two weeks at punt and kick return, but he will need to be huge in order to get the Vols short fields or points against a scary LSU defense.
Jarrett Lee (senior, quarterback)
For Lee, his biggest task will be not screwing things up. The LSU quarterback has only thrown one interception on the year and he needs to continue to manage the game with care.
Lee isn't going to need to lead the Tigers on any game winning drives, but with too many mistakes Lee could throw a lot of game losing throws. Just don't screw things up Mr. Lee.
Tyrann Mathieu (sophomore, cornerback)
It's hard to ignore the supposed 5-foot-9 LSU cornerback. Mathieu has already called out leading Tennessee wide receiver Da' Rick Rogers saying he won't have any yards in Saturday's game. It will be fun to watch the showdown between Rogers and Mathieu. Obviously the sophomore from Baton Rouge likes to talk some trash and Rogers will have plenty to say on the field Saturday.
Spencer Ware (sophomore, running back)
LSU's offensive line will likely outmatch the Volunteers defensive line at every position and Ware's violent running style will be crucial to the Tiger's success.
Look for Ware to pound the ball well over 20 times in Saturday's game. If Ware can hold onto the football and play keep away it could be a very long day on Rocky Top.