Bold Predictions: Tennessee looks to win its first SEC game of 2014
The Tennessee Volunteers (3-5, 0-5 SEC) travel to Columbia, S.C., to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-4, 2-4) on Saturday. The Vols look to bounce back from two consecutive losses to ranked SEC opponents, including a 34-20 loss to No. 3 Alabama in Week 9. Tennessee is within three games of clinching bowl eligibility and has four remaining conference games on its schedule.
Here are three bold predictions for Saturday’s game:
1. Bold Prediction No. 1: Joshua Dobbs will start Saturday’s game
Tennessee released its depth chart with three quarterbacks listed as potential starters. But with Justin Worley’s health still in question leading up to kickoff, sophomore Joshua Dobbs is expected to get the nod.
Dobbs threw for 192 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 19-of-32 passing and added a team-best 75 rushing yards on 19 attempts after entering on Tennessee’s third offensive possession in Week 9. The Vols outscored the Tide 20-14 for the remainder of the game, despite losing 34-20.
2. Josh Malone will record over 100 yards
Josh Malone recorded a season-best 75 yards during Tennessee’s Week 8 loss to Ole Miss. Last week, the true freshman caught his first collegiate touchdown pass, despite battling flu-like symptoms earlier in the week.
Malone has a strong bond with Dobbs, beginning with his official recruiting visit to Tennessee when the then-freshman quarterback was his guide around campus. The two connected for two touchdowns during the Vols’ Orange and White game, before reconnecting on Saturday.
3. Tennessee will capture its first SEC win
Tennessee has survived the gauntlet of ranked opponents it faced in recent weeks. Despite falling on the short end in each game, the Vols managed to stay within contention in most matchups. Tennessee enters a stretch of winnable games should its o-line perform well enough to see offensive progression.
Facing an inept South Carolina defensive line, the Vols shouldn’t allow as many sacks as in previous contests. Also, with the addition of the mobile Dobbs, Tennessee will be able to evade a collapsing pocket.