Devil's Advocate

I think Tennessee will beat Ole Miss handily Saturday at Neyland Stadium, and here's why:

Tennessee has better offensive players than Ole Miss.

Tennessee has better defensive players than Ole Miss.

Tennessee has a better record than Ole Miss, despite facing better competition.

Tennessee has the home field advantage.

Tennessee has a national ranking to protect.

Tennessee has momentum after outscoring LSU 30-6 in the second half of Monday night's game at Baton Rouge.

Tennessee has the Cutcliffe Factor.

Ole Miss fired David Cutcliffe as its head coach last winter. Cutcliffe just happens to be Vol coach Phillip Fulmer's closest friend. That means Cutcliffe can take vengeance on the people who canned him and simultaneously help his best buddy by giving Tennessee information that will help the Vols beat the Rebels Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Asked on Wednesday if he has picked up any insights from Cutcliffe this week, Fulmer smiled.

"I haven't talked to David yet but I'm sure he could (share some insights)," the Vol coach said. "I'll probably talk before the week's over."

Probably? Yeah, right. By kickoff time Saturday Fulmer will know every strength, every weakness and every tendency of every player on the Ole Miss roster. Like the song says, that's what friends are for.

The only advantage Ole Miss has in Saturday's game is the fact new head coach Ed Orgeron is a guy Fulmer hasn't faced before. That advantage is negligible, however. Fulmer faced first-year coaches each of the past two weeks — Florida's Urban Meyer and LSU's Les Miles — and those tests were a lot tougher than this one. Prior to facing Tennessee, Meyer had coached just two games at Florida — one against a real pushover — and Miles had coached just one game at LSU. Conversely, Orgeron has coached three games at Ole Miss, so he hardly qualifies as a mystery man at this point.

After conceding that facing Meyer and Miles was difficult because "there wasn't much film to study," Fulmer noted that this was not a problem in preparing to face Orgeron's team.

"We've got three games (on tape), and you've got a good feel for what people are doing," Fulmer said. "In this case it's not as big a factor. Having only one tape, like LSU's game with Arizona State, was tough.

"This time we've got three games to watch, and some of those guys we recruited."

That brings us to today's math lesson: Better players plus better record plus home field advantage plus momentum plus the Cutcliffe Factor equals a Tennessee victory.


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