After an upset loss to start the season, Tennessee football hosts Brigham Young University. Here is our preview for the UT Volunteers and Cougars.
Can they rebound? That’s the storyline for Tennessee football following one of their worst upset losses in school history last week to the Georgia State Panthers. Jeremy Pruitt is now starting to feel the heat a little bit because of that 38-30 loss, which wasn’t even that close.
This week, he’ll be trying to engineer a turnaround against the BYU Cougars. It’s the first meeting between the Vols and the Mormon school from Utah, which is a bit odd given the history of both football programs.
Just like Tennessee football, BYU will be looking to rebound as well after a tough loss in the Holy War to the Utah Utes last week. However, that was a road loss to a Power Five team predicted to contend for the Pac-12 championship, unlike the Vols, who lost to a Sun Belt team that went 2-10 last year.
Kalani Sitaki returns a ton of talent in his fourth year as head coach from a 7-6 team, most notably quarterback Zach Wilson. Just like Dan Ellington was against UT last week, Wilson is a very mobile quarterback who will be extremely difficult to contain.
Yes, Wilson threw two pick-sixes last week. But he still managed over 200 yards and over 40 yards rushing, so if he limits his mistakes, he is a very difficult player to defend against. That’s especially true with his top target, tight end Matt Bushman.
On top of that, former South Carolina Gamecocks running back Ty’Son Williams is now in BYU’s backfield, giving the Cougars a very balanced attack. The only reason they lost 30-12 last week is because they gave up three touchdowns off turnovers.
Simply put, the Vols might not be as lucky as Utah was. BYU is unlikely to make as many mistakes, and they will be much more motivated to play this game than they were last week. Here is all the information you need for the game.
BYU Cougars at Tennessee Volunteers
When: Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. E.T.
Where: Neyland Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Line: Tennessee -3.5
It’s actually pretty interesting that Vegas still likes the Vols. Them being a favorite after such a bad loss last week is a bit of a surprise, but it also shows that maybe the experts think the game as a whole was just a major fluke.
However, after a 5-7 season in which they lost six games by 25 or more points, UT is now in desperation mode. A bowl game was the goal, but now a horrible season looks like it could be on the table.
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An 0-2 start would be a disastrous route to that. The Vols were supposed to cash in on an easy non-conference schedule this year, and if they can’t do that, then things will only get harder when SEC play arrives.
One key factor for this game is who wins the turnover battle. Tennessee football committed three turnovers and spotted Georgia State 17 points off them last week, and we already mentioned BYU’s three turnovers.
Rocky Top has memorable wins over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Boston College Eagles. They have also beaten the SMU Mustangs and TCU Horned Frogs. So beating BYU would put another win over a religious school on their resume.
Despite the surprise line, we’re going with Vegas insofar as our belief that last week was a bit of a fluke. However, we are going to hedge a bit too. Tennessee football will win this game, but don’t bet on them to cover. A three and a half point spread may be just a bit too much. The Vols win a thriller after forcing a couple of turnovers.