I know it sounds absolutely insane, but I think that the Tennessee Volunteers could be the team that plays the No. 2 Oregon Ducks the closest until the National Championship game. I don’t think there is a team that the Ducks play all season that matches up as well with their strengths and weaknesses as the Volunteers.
Against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, the Volunteers were able to hold in check an extremely volatile running offense as well as an extremely efficient quarterback. The Hilltoppers are nowhere near the talent level of the Volunteers’ next opponents, the Ducks, but the confidence gained on defense will carry over to the game with Oregon early. Don’t be surprised if the Volunteers lead at the half.
Tennessee showed that they could shake off a shaky start and continue to grind out the running game behind Rajion Neal, Marlin Lane and the best offensive line in the country. There was a play in the game where the opposing team encroached, Justin Worley snapped and the entire offensive line didn’t even flinch. That is the type of discipline that can lead to upsets.
The Volunteers aren’t going to stun Oregon in Autzen or anything crazy like that, but this could be the type of 30 to 21 game that has Florida, Georgia and South Carolina worried. A close game with Oregon could give the Volunteers the morale boost needed to defeat their week four opponents, the downtrodden Gators.
Tennessee looks like it has the talent and the drive to go to a bowl game – they just have to pull off one or two upsets first.