Battle of the Underdogs: Staff predictions, week seven vs. Arkansas
John Dunn: (Managing Editor/Host)
Rachel Ward: (Senior Staff Writer)
Trevor Morris (Junior Staff Writer)
William Allen (Junior Staff Writer)
Tyler Graham (Junior Staff Writer)
Miguel Detillier (Junior Staff Writer)
Tennessee and Arkansas -- two programs that have fallen on hard times in the past decade or so. The Razorbacks don't necessarily have the storied history that the Vols have, but they have still fielded some wonderful teams in the past. In fact, one of the most classic match-ups in Tennessee history was the 1998 (1) Tennessee vs. (10) Arkansas game, in which Clint Stoerner fumbled the ball with Vols DT Billy Ratliff coming up with the crucial fumble recovery. Tennessee went on to win the game 28-24.
Arkansas has been one of the surprise teams of 2020. Under first year head coach Sam Pittman, the Razorbacks have made a splash in the SEC West midway through the season. With unanswered questions lingering on Rocky Top, Tennessee will have to block out the excess noise and focus on taking care of business on the road, under the lights in Fayetteville, in order to improve to .500 on the season. The Vols' remaining schedule doesn't get much easier from here, and the time is now for Tennessee to make a statement that they are serious about winning football games.
John Dunn: The only way to go from here is up. We've seen some of the worst football played in the last few games that we've seen in a long time. It seems like since the second half of the Georgia game, the Vols have lost all confidence in themselves. It feels like everyone has already given up, from the coaches, to the fans. However, a pivotal BYE week could see a resurgence in energy and confidence.
It really depends on which Tennessee team shows up Saturday on how this game goes. Are we going to see the team that seems content with going three-and-out every other drive, or are we going to see the team that manages the game well, with good play calling, that will stop at nothing to win the game?
Call it wishful thinking, but I believe we see some real football Saturday. I expect this to be a defensive battle. One crucial aspect of this game will be Tennessee's pass defense. The Razorbacks now have former Florida quarterback Felipe Franks under center. Arkansas also possesses a few play-making wide receivers this season. Tennessee will have to force Arkansas to beat them on the ground. I'm hoping that we see long, drawn-out, methodical drives from the Vols all day, taking in vital TOP, controlling the pace of the game, and keeping the ball out of the Razorbacks' offense's hands.
Prediction: Tennessee - 28 | Arkansas - 21
Rachel Ward: The last time the Vols faced the Razorbacks was under former head coach Butch Jones in 2015, as Tennessee suffered a narrow loss at home 24-20. Similarly to Mizzou, Arkansas is entering their first season with a new head coach; Sam Pittman. Along with a head coach change, the Razorbacks replaced almost all of their assistant coaches, and have a completely brand new staff. It’s a rebuilding year for Arkansas for sure, so this will play into the Vols’ favor as they are looking to take back their 2015 loss and turn it into a 2020 win on the road.
A key player to watch for at Arkansas is running back Rakeem Boyd, who is entering the season as one of the top ranked returning RBs. Boyd ranked fourth in the SEC in rushing yards and made up for lack of QB consistency for Arkansas last season.
Prediction: Tennessee - 34 | Arkansas - 21
Trevor Morris: Arkansas has been one of the most surprising teams this season. Coach Sam Pittman has done a good job utilizing his players' strengths and finding ways to keep things close. Arkansas QB Feliepe Franks surpassed his expectations. Franks was formerly the QB for the Florida Gators, so he has experience playing the Vols in the past.
I expect this to be a physical game with the Arkansas defense focusing on stopping Eric Gray and the Tennessee running game. Gaurantano is yet again in a "prove your worth" position coming off a BYE week, and that's a position he has done fairly well in in the past, as long as he isn't facing a top ten team.
It is easily the most difficult game to predict so far this season. I expect Arkansas to play with a chip on their shoulder after losing to rival Texas A&M, but I also trust Pruitt will have his team ready after a BYE week.
Prediction: Tennessee - 28 | Arkansas - 24 (Morris is 5/5 on Tennessee predictions this season)
William Allen: Tennessee travels to Hog Country this week to face the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville. This game will be a tale of the running backs in an exciting match-up. First year head coach Sam Pittman has a few toys to play with in running back Rakeem Boyd, and Florida transfer Feliepe Franks. The Tennessee offense will be clicking on all cylinders in a shootout win at Arkansas.
Prediction: Tennessee - 52 | Arkansas - 38
Tyler Graham: The Volunteers hit the road after a bye week and head down to Fayetteville to take on the Razorbacks. The last meeting, in 2015, The Razorbacks came into Neyland Stadium and walked away with a 24-20 win.
The Volunteers will look to take down the recently struggling Razorbacks, who went 2-10 overall last season and 0-8 in SEC play. First-year head coach
Sam Pittman, Georgia’s former OL coach, will look to turn Arkansas around.
Tennessee head coach, Jeremy Pruitt, should have his team hungry and ready to fight after two weeks of preparation. I believe the Volunteers will walk out of Arkansas and return home with a win.
Prediction: Tennessee - 24 | Arkansas - 20
Miguel Detillier: The Vols can breathe easily after both a daunting matchup against Alabama and a BYE week as they travel to Fayetteville to face Arkansas. This is not the same team that last faced Arkansas back in 2015, when they lost a 24-20 heartbreaker to the Razorbacks.
Times have changed for both squads as Tennessee is trying to make some progress under third-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt, whereas, Arkansas is working to get things in place after an atrocious 2-10 season in 2019, with Sam Pittman trying to take the Hogs in a new direction in 2020 as their new coach.
It will not be the case for the latter, and Tennessee should take advantage of Arkansas defensively, but should also expect Feliepe Franks, their new starting quarterback and former archn-emesis of the Vols back in his Florida days, to give them a bit of a challenge.
They should not have many issues covering the wide receiving game as Arkansas does not have much depth in that field. Tennessee and their stout offensive line will make Arkansas’ below-average defense look less-than-satisfactory as Guarantano should use his arm strength to make big passes against this defense, The productive rushing attack combination of Ty Chandler and Eric Gray will create more havoc on the Hogs’ Achilles heel.
If you add all this up along with Arkansas’ difficult 2020 schedule, Tennessee will have a complete field day facing the Hogs before facing a tougher road ahead with two top 15 opponents to face in the next two weeks.
Prediction: Tennessee - 41 | Arkansas - 14