LSU Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Date and Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017, 7 p.m. ET
Location: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Opening College Football Odds: LSU -14
LSU vs. Tennessee TV Coverage: ESPN
The results at Tennessee just weren't good enough this year. A 42-41 win over Georgia Tech to kick off the season was a huge fluke, and from that point, forward, there was nothing to cheer about. The Vols blew out Indiana State, but even in its wins over UMass and Southern Miss, this team never looked sturdy. There were near misses (15-9 to South Carolina, 26-20 to Florida, 29-26 to Kentucky) and huge blowouts (41-0 to Georgia, 45-7 to Alabama, 50-17 to Missouri), but the one thing that was a commonality in all of those games was a lack of an offense.
Consider this: The Volunteers scored 84 points in their first two games of the season. They scored 11 offensive touchdowns in those two games. Since that point, they've scored a total of 120 points and 10 offensive touchdowns.
We love John Kelly. He has 711 rushing yards and 263 receiving yards, and he's has eight of the team's 21 touchdowns this season. He can't do this by himself, though. The Tennessee quarterback situation has been putrid at best, and it's so bad now that the team has been turned over to freshman Will McBride with both Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano stinking up the joint.
LSU seems like it's pointed towards the Outback Bowl or the Capital One Bowl at this point, but enough hell breaking loose over the end of the season could put the Bayou Bengals in the New Year's Six still, too. The Tigers' season fell apart after losing to Troy at homecoming on September 30, but in the end, if Ed Orgeron can get out of the rest of this season with only a loss to Alabama and perhaps a loss to a team like Penn State or Michigan in a good bowl game, it's hard to complain all that much.
The raw numbers for the Tigers aren't all that bad. Sure, they're only No. 62 in the nation in total offense and No. 83 in scoring, but what else is new? This isn't a team that has been built to score 40+ points in most games for years, and averaging over 200 rushing yards per game in the SEC is generally considered a success.
Remember, too, that LSU has the No. 16-ranked defense in the nation at 317.1 yards per game allowed. This team allows too many rushing yards at 142.4 per game, but the bottom line of 19.4 points per game is rock solid.
You know a team has flat out given up when it lets Missouri run the ball 52 times for 435 yards against it. Mizzou is always out to run as many plays as it can and get some cheap points on the board, but there's still no excuse for allowing that many yards.
LSU has made a history of breaking opponents' wills with its ground game, and there's no reason to think this one is going to be any different.
Last week against an Arkansas team that has been notoriously weak at the line of scrimmage this season, Derrius Guice ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.
Guice isn't quite Leonard Fournette (who is?), but he's capable of another 150+ yard effort in this game if the Volunteers don't come up with a little more pride and at least try to stop the run.
LSU vs. Tennessee Free Picks
For as bad as Tennessee has been this year, we have to wonder if the interim staff is going to get a little something out of these guys this week. Kelly is a true leader who is going to be outspoken in the locker room in preparation for his penultimate home game of his career, and he's going to be the man beating the drum and saying that it can still get to a bowl game.
Is there an upset brewing? If so, it would be a huge one. The Bayou Bengals are deservedly 14-point favorites at all of the best college football sportsbooks. But we can't help but wonder if a Tennessee team that has never played up to its hype is going to rise up and send the Tigers packing.
College Football ATS Pick: Tennessee +14 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Tennessee 27, LSU 21