Week 8 - South Carolina at Tennessee

Posted Oct 17, 2013

Week 8 Fearless Predictions & Preview - South Carolina at Tennessee

- Georgia at Vanderbilt | South Carolina at Tennessee
- Florida at Missouri | Auburn at Texas A&M
- LSU at Ole Miss | Arkansas at Alabama

South Carolina (5-1) at Tennessee (3-3) Oct. 19 12:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: All of a sudden, this just got really, really interesting for South Carolina. With Georgia's loss to Missouri, the Gamecocks are alive and kicking again for the SEC East title after winning three straight in conference play highlighted by its best performance of the year in a 52-7 win over Arkansas. It might not seem like it, but at 5-1 there's a chance to do some really, really big things. With Missouri, Florida and Clemson still to play, the schedule gets tougher, and that's not a bad thing – there's a bigger chance to make a statement.

Tennessee is still smarting from the painful loss to Georgia two weeks ago, and while it's 3-3 overall and 0-2 in SEC play, it's improving and starting to play better. With two weeks off to prepare, this might be a must win at home with road games at Alabama and Missouri to follow. The Vols have been interesting with a decent offense, but the defense has been a problem – especially on key plays – and the best win so far came against South Alabama. The Butch Jones era needs a push.

Why South Carolina Might Win: There just aren't any big plays in the Tennessee passing game. It's improving with over 200 yards through the air in each of the last two games, but they throws aren't going anywhere. The Georgia game was a nice step forward, but for the most part, there's way too much dinking and dunking for an offense that needs more pop. South Carolina's offense might not have any national stars – not that QB Connor Shaw and RB Mike Davis don't deserve the attention – but this is one of the nation's most effective offenses.

Why Tennessee Might Win: South Carolina can't seem to get out of its own way at times. Forget that Tennessee is last in the SEC in giveaways – two bad outings against Florida and South Alabama sort of skewed the stats – the defense is making up for the errors with 15 takeaways. There weren't any against Georgia and Oregon, but the D has done a strong job of being disruptive. South Carolina has a fumbling problem, losing at least one a week since the opening day win over North Carolina. Can Tennessee be on the plus side of the turnover margin? It might have to be to get the win.

Who To Watch Out For: Rajion Neal has been fantastic. The Tennessee running back was limited a bit, but when he gets the ball, he produces. After averaging 14 carries a game over the first four, he got the ball 25 times for 169 yards and a score against South Alabama and 28 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia. He didn't play against South Carolina last year, but he needs to control the game for the Vol offense.

What Will Happen: Was the Arkansas game the breakthrough moment for South Carolina? Tennessee is rested, and it should put up a fight, but after a rough start, the Gamecocks will get the ground game going and take over in the second half.

Prediction: South Carolina 38 … Tennessee 28
Line: South Carolina -7.5 o/u: 54.5
Must See Rating: (5 Bad Grandpa – 1 Vanilla Ice Goes Amish) … 3
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