The Tennessee Volunteers have started the season 2-0 under new head coach Butch Jones, and folks in Knoxville are feeling pretty good about their team. After opening the season with an easy victory over Austin Peay, the Volunteers blasted Western Kentucky 59-20 last week. That’s the same Western Kentucky that beat another Southeastern Conference team, the Kentucky Wildcats, the week before.
Tennessee created/was the beneficiary of seven turnovers by the Hilltoppers last week. Two interceptions were returned for touchdowns, and the Vols scored points on each of WKU’s first five turnovers.
The thing that should scare the Big Orange Nation is that Western Kentucky was able to move the ball on the Tennessee defense. WKU actually outgained Tennessee in the game, 393-382. 171 of those yards were on the ground.
Why is that scary for the Vols? Because they face a serious step up in competition, and one of the nation’s best offenses, this weekend. Tennessee makes the trip from Knoxville to Eugene to face the powerful Oregon Ducks, the nation’s second-ranked team.
Oregon is second in the country in total offense, averaging 664.5 yards per game. The Ducks are third in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 62.5 points per game. They have two players (quarterback Marcus Mariota and all-purpose back De’Anthony Thomas) that are averaging over 100 rushing yards per game.
Tennessee did not see anything like this Ducks’ offense in its first two games. As if making the trip to the northwest wasn’t bad enough, the Vols will find themselves in the middle of an offensive onslaught in this game. Tennessee’s best hope is to move the ball on offense and keep the Oregon offense off the field. If the Vols are unable to do that, this game could get really ugly, really early.