Tennessee looks to keep it undefeated season alive while the LSU Tigers aim to protect home turf Saturday at noon Eastern time on ESPN.

Tennessee vs. LSU preview

Tennessee fans probably thought they had escaped another grueling top-25 showdown the week before Alabama. LSU, after all, struggled out of the gate and did not look like it would be sniffing the top 25 after falling to Florida State.

But Brian Kelly’s squad has tightened up .The Tigers have won 4 straight, including one against Mississippi State. Between the 2 teams, it’s the only win against a currently ranked AP Top 25 opponent.

Of course, that’s kind of a misleading stat. The Vols beat both Pitt and Florida when they were well within the top 25. Someone has to go up and someone has to go down.

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In reality this is probably Tennessee’s toughest test of the year thus far and its third toughest test of the season behind Alabama and Georgia, eclipsing Kentucky because the game is in Death Valley, not Knoxville.

And LSU knows it. This is the perfect opportunity for the Tigers to prove they are for real against a Tennessee defense that, despite its No. 8 ranking, has struggled at times this season.

Let’s dive into that matchup.

Jayden Daniels will present a similar matchup to Tennessee as Anthony Richardson. He likes to run first and throw second. However, Kelly noted that he would like to see Daniels prove he can push the ball downfield more. Now, against a struggling defensive secondary, at home against a top 25 team, is the perfect time to at least try.

Because the simple fact of the matter is LSU has little chance of beating the Vols if they remain as one-dimensional on offense. The LSU defense is stout, but will find stopping Hendon Hooker more than a few times difficult. The Tiger offense needs to be able to keep up, plain and simple.

Now, the positive from Daniels is that he is efficient when he does throw. He’s tentative because he protects the football very well. The Arizona State transfer has yet to throw an interception this season.

But then again, neither has Hooker. The Heisman candidate has thrown for well over 1,000 yards, 8 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 4 games. He’s thrown just 3 interceptions at Tennessee across his career in Knoxville.

Tennessee vs. LSU Prediction

This one is going to be so much closer than some would think, but LSU has more questions to answer than Tennessee does right now.

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Tennessee’s major weakness is something LSU has yet to show it can exploit. The Tigers have to connect on some vertical concepts to make and sort of dent in the Tennessee armor. If they can do that, the Tigers will have a chance to knock off the No. 8 team in the nation.

But changing now is just unlikely, and it could force Daniels into situations he’s not comfortable with. Tennessee’s offense is also the most potent LSU has faced this season, though the Tigers did quell Mike Leach and Mississippi State’s Air Raid a few weeks ago.

Prediction: Tennessee 38, LSU 31