It’s a huge game for the Tennesee Volunteers and that’s hard to argue. Fresh off a 59-10 beatdown of Ball State, the No. 24 Vols will head up north to take on the No. 17 Pittsburgh Panthers.

The Panthers are already a battle-tested team, having beat West Virginia in a 38-31 thriller in Week 1’s rendition of the Backyard Brawl. Pitt also has a recent win over Tennessee under its belt. Last season, Kenny Pickett’s Panthers beat Tennessee in Knoxville, 41-34.

This weekend will be the rematch of that home-and-home, and it’s worth noting that one national analyst – Josh Pate of 247Sports – doesn’t believe the Vols will suffer a loss this time around.

The reasoning? Well, Pate doesn’t believe the Panthers will be able to keep up with Tennessee’s offense, especially in the fourth quarter.

“I think to myself about how critical balance will be for Pitt in this game offensively. I just don’t think they’re going to achieve it. I think, unlike last year, they will not be able to trade points enough with Tennessee,” Pate said. “This is a good barometer, a really good measuring stick, for both programs. I think it’s going to be a very competitive game, but the fourth quarter, I think, is going to belong to Tennessee. I’m taking Tennessee to win.”

Again, it’s worth noting that Pitt had Pickett at quarterback last season, and he went off for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air with another touchdown against Tennessee with his feet in that game.

This time around, the Panthers will trot out senior Kedon Slovis, a transfer from USC. Slovis did put up 308 yards and a touchdown against WVU, but he’s far from the offensive weapon that Pickett was for the Panthers last season.

Tennessee, in the meantime, will go back to Hendon Hooker at quarterback, and there’s a pretty good chance the redshirt senior will improve on his stat line from last season’s game against Pitt (15-of-21 passing for 188 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception).

Against Ball State, Hooker completed 18-of-25 passes for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns while also rushing for two scores on the ground.

Read More

Sports betting in Tennessee officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.