When the Tennessee Volunteers nearly came away with an overtime victory against the Georgia Bulldogs, they managed to one thing in particular — they put more pressure on themselves.
The Vols showed that they can compete with some of the top teams in the SEC, which makes the pressure to win a big-time SEC game even greater.
Tennessee isn’t as far away as everyone thought, but they are still playing with less talent than their SEC counterparts.
Now the Volunteers will have to build off the positives from the Georgia game and carry them over to their game against South Carolina this Saturday.
South Carolina, coming off a huge win against Arkansas, is ranked 11th in the AP poll and 9th in the USA Today/Coaches Poll.
It should be noted that the last time Tennessee beat a ranked team was almost four years ago at home against South Carolina.
There’s no reason to believe that Tennessee can’t pull off the upset on Saturday. They showed against Georgia that their offense is capable of moving the ball. They also showed they’re not afraid to take some chances — Butch Jones went for it three times on fourth down against the Bulldogs.
South Carolina has had their moments this season when they haven’t looked that great. Outside of their season-opening win against North Carolina, the Gamecocks hadn’t looked like a top ten team until this past Saturday’s drubbing of Arkansas.
The Gamecocks, who lost to Georgia the second game of the season, had close calls against Vanderbilt, Central Florida and Kentucky.
Outside of the preparing for the Gamecocks, the Vols have had to deal with the distraction of Monday’s huge announcement of the Vols playing against Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016.
Butch Jones hasn’t let the news of the Vols playing at Bristol in three years affect his team’s preparation this week, nor has he overlooked South Carolina in any way.
Jones: They’re [South Carolina] coming in here with a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence, and it’s going to take our best effort to compete on Saturday.
The Vols will be facing one of the toughest quarterbacks in the SEC in Connor Shaw. He’s not the best quarterback the Vols have played against this year, but he’s certainly the toughest. Shaw leaves it all out there in the field, each and every game.
It’s going to take another near perfect game from the Vols in order to knock off South Carolina.
Don’t let the close calls fool you, South Carolina is still a top-ten team. If Tennessee doesn’t protect the football and convert on third down, this game could easily get out of hand.