The Vols take on the Charlotte 49ers inside Neyland Stadium on Saturday and our staff predicted the outcome of the game for your reading (and gambling) pleasure.
According to Las Vegas, Tennessee is currently a 22-point favorite. Let’s get to it…
Celina Summers (@CelinaSummers)
Well, let’s see. Homecoming, cupcake, heartbreaking loss last week…
Last week, I tried to see if me picking the Vols to win was some kind of curse. It wasn’t. So now, looking at the Charlotte 49ers, I’m seeing a welcome break from SEC play and a chance for the offense to settle down and operate smoothly while the defense steps up and becomes more aggressive. So this week’s pick is easy.
Vols by fiddy. Okay, fiddy-ish.
John Monroe (@MinisterofD)
The Vols October gauntlet is finally over and they came out about where they needed to be to have a run at a bowl game. Unfortunately, the narrow loss to South Carolina hurt their chances, but Tennessee should be able to take another step forward this weekend against Charlotte. The 49ers will look to run it with running back Benny Lemay, as they have struggled mightily passing the ball. For the Vols, look for them to go with their usual game plan, and to possibly mix up some personnel on both sides of the ball if they get enough of a lead. This one shouldn’t be much of a problem for Tennessee, and should afford them the opportunity to try some new things headed into the final stretch of the season.
Jordan Burns (@VolSportsTalkJB):
Everyone expected the beatdown from Alabama, but Tennessee fans were optimistic that the Vols could go into Columbia and beat the Gamecocks. And if not for some very poor run defense and a couple of head-scratching calls from the officials, Tennessee would have. Instead, they lost in a close one, 27-24.
Tennessee now turns the page to November, where they must find three wins in order to see bowl season. It’s very doable. And it all starts this Saturday when the Vols take on Charlotte from Conference USA. It’s not exactly a prime SEC game but Jeremy Pruitt and co. will benefit from it. This is a matchup in which the starters will ideally be sitting on the bench by late third quarter. Not only will the starters likely be getting some rest heading into their rivalry matchup with Kentucky, they should also get some much-needed confidence back.
Tennessee will need to make sure they don’t mess around in this one, and take care of business early on. Because doing so will ensure the aforementioned rest for the starters, and allow them to fix some things. There’s been a lot of chatter about who the QB should be going forward, I would not completely be opposed to seeing Keller Chryst taking the first snaps, however, I don’t think Jarrett Guarantano has performed poorly enough to have his job snatched away. JG does need to work on hitting those medium out-routes, and making quicker decisions but he’s done more than enough to keep the starting spot for now.
There’s really not a whole lot more to talk about here. I just wish this game was at noon, rather than 4 p.m. ET.
Matthew Dossett (@MatthewD9999):
The Vols dropped a heartbreaker on the road against the South Carolina Gamecocks last Saturday. This week, the boys will face off against the Charlotte 49ers in the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium. This is an intriguing game to me. Yes, the Vols are a large favorite. The line is hovering around 21 points in favor of Tennessee while I type this. On paper, this a mismatch, but will Tennessee bounce back and come to play after a demoralizing defeat? There are truly two sides of the coin here. Side one is that the Vols may be down in the dumps from the loss last week and come out lethargic against the 49ers. The other side is that Tennessee gets up off that mat and plays spirited, inspired football. We will see early on in the game which team we are going to get.
I tend to think that we will get option two. Look for Jeremy Pruitt to have his boys ready to rock and roll. The last thing the Vols need is to give Charlotte a glimmer of hope and be in this game late. Many Vols fans probably chalk this up as a rout in favor of the Big Orange. Make no mistake though, Charlotte is somewhat capable and even better than ETSU and UTEP, two other perceived cupcakes that Tennessee has played. The Vols need to shore up their rushing defense. Late in the game against South Carolina, the Gamecocks were running the ball on them at will. And on the offensive side of the ball, look for Tennessee to continue to get halfback Ty Chandler involved in the running game as usual but also get him the ball through the air on the perimeter.
Again, I look for Tennessee to bring the juice, but I also think Charlotte is not going to just lay down. Jarrett Guarantano should have a good, crisp outing. He still needs to learn to not hold on to the ball too long and this game will be a good opportunity for him to iron out the kinks. I think Charlotte will hang in there for a quarter and a half but ultimately the Vols will gain control and pull away. Simply put, UT has the advantage when it comes to the Jimmies and the Joes and that gives them a big edge.
Charlie Burris (@Charlie_Burris):
After last week’s heartbreaker against South Carolina, this snoozer against Charlotte is conveniently placed. It won’t be a total cakewalk, Charlotte is a middling team in a middling Group of Five conference, but it shouldn’t be that much trouble.
I want to see UT jump on the 49ers early and seal this thing up so the backups can get in and give the starters rest. Will that happen? I’m not so sure, but either way, I think Tennessee pulls away by the final buzzer.