Thursday, September 13, 2007

Prediction: The Volunteers will knock off the mighty Gators (no, I don't have a fever)

The Tennessee Volunteers play their first big conference game of the year when they meet defending national champion Florida down at the Swamp on Saturday. Before you say it, let me beat you to the punch: this is not some starry-eyed prediction from somebody who graduated from UT. The Vols will win and for very good reasons.

I'll begin with the obvious. Tennessee's defense has been inconsistent at best so far this year, and Florida's defense has nine new starters that have barely been tested in their first two games. Both teams have a lot of skill on offense, so expect this game to be very high scoring. It's going to take 40 points to win this one.

The Vols get the edge because they will be able to run the ball effectively. Except for the second half of the Southern Mississippi game, Tennessee has had a pass first offense. However, this has masked the fact that the Vols have run the ball very well this year.

Against California, we abandoned the running game because we fell behind early. However, Arian Foster still ran for 89 yards. Admittedly, Cal has a pretty soft run defense, but against a much better Southern Mississippi defense, Foster racked up 125 yards, while the Vols rushed for 193 yards as a team.

Last year, the Vols rushed for a laughable minus-11 yards against the Gators yet still only lost by one point. Even an average rushing day should be enough to get them over the hump this year.

Also, look for the maligned Vols defense to at least make some big plays against the Gators. Yes, quarterback Tim Tebow will put up some big numbers, but our front seven will put enough heat on him to wear him down by the fourth quarter. With rubbery legs, his mobility will be severely limited. Tebow has a lot of skills, but he is inexperienced and has never had to carry the full load in a big conference game.

As I said in my pre-season predictions, the winner of the Eastern Division will have two losses. Therefore, the loser of this game will still be in the thick of the race. However, winning this one would be sweet.

The pick: Tennessee 42 Florida 40

As for the Tennessee Titans, they also have a big game this week as they host defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis. Think about it: the games involving the two highest profile football teams in the state are being played against the defending national college champion and the Super Bowl champion. This is pretty heady stuff.

The Titans have to feel good about their running game after being able to run the ball down the throat of Jacksonville last week. Chris Brown played the game of his professional life in rushing for 175 yards, but his lack of durability will guarantee that LenDale White will still get plenty of carries.

However, the Colts offense can move the ball on anybody. If the Titans can control the clock by running the ball, it will help neutralize the Colts offense. After all, the only way to slow that offense down is to keep it off the field.

The Titans beat the Colts on a last second field goal in Nashville last year, but I don't see it happening this year. The Colts are playing at an extremely high level. The Titans are light years better than they were at this point last year, but it won't be enough.

The pick: Indianapolis 28 Tennessee 17

Other SEC picks: Alabama over Arkansas, Louisville over Kentucky, Vanderbilt over Ole Miss, Auburn over Mississippi State, LSU over Middle Tennessee

Other NFL picks: New England over San Diego, Philadelphia over Washington, Dallas over Miami, Baltimore over New York Jets

Last week: 9-1 (.900), Overall: 19-2 (.905)


Joltin' Django said...

"Prediction: The Volunteers will knock off the mighty Gators."

As Vincent Vega said in Pulp Fiction, "That's a bold ass statement."

I don't think the Colts-Titans game will be close. In fact, it might get downright ugly for Bud Adams' boys. I say Indy 38, Tenn. 12.

Anonymous said...

florida 31 - tennessee 10

colts 24 - titans 3

arkansas 20 - alabama 10

auburn 50 - miss state 0

lsu 51 - mtsu 0

Nate said...

I would advise you to look at recent history.

Superbowl winners come out in game 1 and destroy some team... and everyone figures a repeat is a foregone conclusion.

Then they lay an egg in week 2.

I expect Indy to continue this trend. The plain truth is, Indy can't deal with Tennessee's offensive line. Honestly... I'm skeptical if anyone can.

Chris... You could run the ball behind Roos, Bell, and Stewart.

I think the Vols lose to the Gaytors... Based on sme Tebow heroics late in the game.

Titans dominate the Colts. They top 250 yards rushing again... and Lendale White absolutely trucks Bob Sanders at least once.

Chris said...

Florida 59 Tenn 20. Apparently, I did have a fever. Florida was clearly the better team and dominated every phase of the game.

For long-time Tennessee fans, this reminds me of the Florida game in 1995 when the Gators beat us 62-37. That game was demoralizing as was this one.

It's time for this team to decide whether it wants to be good or not.

Chris said...

Colts 22 Titans 20. The loss is disappointing, but there is no question that the Titans are a playoff caliber team. There is lots to feel good about.

Nate said...

Fulmer should have the self respect to step down.

UT has lost 29 games since 2000.

That's unacceptable. He's flushing his own legacy down the toilet.

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Joltin' Django said...

Can you say Upset Saturday? How 'bout Kentucky, Miss. State, and Alabama?

As far as the Titans are concerned, the game wasn't quite as close as it looked. The Colts made a couple of egregiously dumb mistakes -- like a receiver pulling up on a timed pass pattern because of a pass-interference that wasn't called, thus allowing the Titans to make an easy interception. Such allowed the Titans to gain and regain momentum at home, where they have a reputation for playing tough. (Let's just hope Vince Young was paying attention when the Colts had the ball. Three-quarters of Manning's incomplete passes are more impressive than half of Young's completions.)

Sjones said...

Assuming UT can win win their non-conference games, they will have to win 3 SEC games just to break even. Need big odds to make that bet right now. I don't think it's a question of talent - but one of drive and motivation. They haven't played a season with heart since winning the national championship. It's time for new leadership.

Indianapolis had a bad day, played uninspired, and as joltin said - were on the receiving end of a critical non-call. They took the day off and still won. I'm afraid Vince & company have a long way to go.

Nate said...

Give me a break dude. For every stupid mistake the Colts made the Titans made at least one.

Vince's TD pass to Roydell was as perfect as anything Manning threw all day.

Sure Vince missed some throws. Then again, if the receiver is supposed to be 8 yards deep, and he cuts it off at 6... guess what? It looks like VY over threw him. We've got some crappy route runners.

Manning is the best in the league. Maybe the best of all time. He is NOT perfect. He makes mistakes. He gets beat sometimes. For example... Taking that sack on thier last drive? Are you kidding? If VY had done it... everyone would say it was because he's young and inexperienced and dumb.

Manning did it though... so no one said a word.

Fact is you can't take that sack. It takes you out of field position. If we'd come back and won, it would've been on Saint Manning's shoulders, because he didn't throw a ball away.

What we need... is David Givens to get healthy.

Chris said...

The last three Titans/Colts games have been decided by three points or less. That's a trend. If Brandon Jones makes that catch on the final drive, I believe we win (but I realize that is easy to say).

In our last 13 games, the Titans now have a record of 9-4. If we can play the Colts tight, we can play anybody in the NFL tight.

I'm on the bandwagon. The Titans are back.

Nate said...

great stat:

Over the last 12 quarters head-to-head the score is Titans 53, Colts 53.