Tennessee is in a ‘must win’ situation for the rest of the season. If the Vols want to win the SEC East and make it to Atlanta, they have to go 3-0 against their final SEC foes.
Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt have a combined 11-16 record, but Tennessee can’t afford to look over any of these teams. A repeat of the South Carolina performance would label this season a disappointment.
Who poses the toughest test for Tennessee the rest of the way? ESPN’s Ed Aschoff discussed with Paul Finebaum this week.
Vols Road to Atlanta
Overall, I agree with Aschoff. Vanderbilt (4-5) is the only road game left for Tennessee and the Vandy defense has played valiantly all season. The ‘Dores defense held Auburn, the third highest scoring offense in the SEC, to only 23 points. Two seasons ago, Derek Mason stymied the Josh Dobbs led Vols’ offense in Nashville. Tennessee squirted out a close 21-17 win to become bowl eligible. Last season was a different with a hot Tennessee offense blowing out Vandy 53-28. Based on injury concerns, this match-up should be much different.
The Vols can’t overlook Kentucky (5-4) this weekend. The Wildcats have a strong running game with Benny Snell and Boom Williams splitting carries. Tennessee’s interior rushing defense is a red flag, for me, based on injuries. UT is without 75-percent of its original four man rotation at defensive tackle. Kendall Vickers has been joined inside by reserves Dimarya Mixon, Quay Picou and ends-turned-tackles Kyle Phillips and Jonathan Kongbo.
It will be an intriguing race down the stretch for the SEC East title, and Butch Jones and the Vols need to avoid disappointment.