Devil's Advocate

Check out this season's eighth edition of InsideTennessee's Devil's Advocate series in which two staff members break down why their assigned team will win on Saturday.

We at InsideTennessee love a good debate. That's why we think you'll enjoy Devil's Advocate. Each week one staffer presents evidence why Tennessee will win/beat the spread, while another staffer offers a spirited rebuttal on behalf of the opposing team.

Here are this week's arguments:


By Randy Moore

South Carolina's Stephen Garcia hurt Tennessee with his arm (13-of-22 passing for 223 yards and a touchdown) and his feet (35 gross rushing yards) in last year's 38-24 Gamecock victory at Columbia.

He might have been a key figure in Saturday night's rematch at Neyland Stadium ... except he was dismissed from the team 18 days ago.

Marcus Lattimore hurt Tennessee with only his feet last year but the wounds he inflicted were mortal — 184 rushing yards and a touchdown on 29 carries.

He definitely would have been a key figure in Saturday night's Knoxville rematch ... except he suffered a season-ending knee injury 14 days ago.

To recap: The quarterback who torched Tennessee's secondary last fall and the tailback who tormented Tennessee's front seven last fall won't be playing this time.

Advantage, Tennessee.

This time the game will be played in Knoxville, not Columbia.

Advantage, Tennessee.

The Vols' quarterback will be freshman Justin Worley, who was named Gatorade National Player of the Year as a high school senior in Rock Hill, S.C., but was not offered a scholarship by the home-state Gamecocks. Think he'll be motivated?

Advantage, Tennessee.

The Vols just got humiliated by No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama on back-to-back weekends. They're desperate to redeem themselves in front of the home fans.

Advantage, Tennessee.

Steve Spurrier was the sharpest coach in college football during the 1990s. This isn't the '90s.

Advantage, Tennessee.


By Danny Parker

The Southeastern Conference is no place for on-the-job training.

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley understands that but has no choice with the exceedingly tiny amount of veterans he has on his team. On Saturday night, the second-year head man will put 13 underclassmen in his "fragile" starting lineup, not including sophomore kicker Michael Palardy, redshirt freshman Matt Darr and true freshman returnman Devrin Young.

Does the youth movement in Knoxville bode well for the future? Certainly. Having a three-year veteran at nearly every position in 2013 should give Tennessee a distinct advantage.

However, this is still 2011. Asking a bevy of 18- and 19-year-olds to take down the reigning SEC Eastern Division champions is too much.

Conversely, South Carolina starts an upperclassmen-only defense and coordinator Ellis Johnson is among the more respected around. The combination of an athletic pass rush, a secondary loaded with playmakers and an opposing quarterback who has never attempted a pass equals a low number of points for the Vols.

If UT learned anything from the last two weeks it's that it can only keep the opposing offenses down so long before the levee breaks. When it does and the Vol offense can't counter with first downs and points. Then, snowballs quickly turn into an avalanche.

Against the 14th-ranked team in the country, history has a great chance at repeating itself. That should become evident around 8:57 p.m. when the third quarter gets underway.

The Vols are beyond desperate for an upset over a ranked team but those hopes will have to be extended at least two more weeks.

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