Defense Departs DeVols

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, but you can build a pretty strong case that the core issue in Tennessee's four-game losing streak is diminishing defense.

During the six-game winning streak that carried the Vols to a 15-6 overall record and a 7-3 SEC mark, Tennessee allowed 56 points (South Carolina), 57 (Auburn), 45 (UMass), 72 (Georgia), 62 (Arkansas) and 59 (Florida).

Conversely, during the four-game losing streak which has dropped the team to 15-10 and 7-7, the Vols allowed 77 (South Carolina), 76 (Alabama), 80 (Kentucky) and 88 (LSU).

For those keeping score at home, Tennessee allowed just 58.5 points per game during its winning streak but 80.2 ppg during its losing streak. That's a 25 points-per-game drop in defensive efficiency.

As noted weeks ago in this same space, 70 clearly is the Vols' Magic Number. Tennessee stands 14-1 when holding its opponent under 70 points but stands 1-9 when the opponent scores more than 70.

Oddly enough, no opponent this season has scored precisely 70 on the Vols.

It may be an oversimplification but, statistically speaking, if Tennessee holds Mississippi State (Wednesday) and Vanderbilt (Saturday) below 70 points, the Big Orange probably will win. If it does not, it almost certainly will lose.

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