By: All Vol Call in Show Staff
Two of the most explosive offensive teams in the country take to Neyland Stadium on Saturday as the 13th-ranked Rebels of Ole Miss travel to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. As if the explosive offenses weren't enough to draw a massive crowd, former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin returns to Knoxville for the first time as a head coach.
With the game being the first sellout since 2017, it's easy to see that the Tennessee fan base is excited for the tense matchup. A checkered sea of orange and white will fill the stadium for kick-off at 7:30.
John Dunn (Founder/Host/Managing Editor):
This is a game that many had circled on the calendar before the season had even begun. Josh Heupel's reputation as an offensive mastermind, Lane Kiffin's reputation as an offensive mastermind, and the added tension of Kiffin being a former head coach at Tennessee made this game one to watch from day-one of the college football season.
With both teams having similar offensive philosophies, this game should come down to which team can make stops on defense. One or two turnovers could mean a huge difference in this game, and could very well be the deciding factor in the game, if the team that takes the ball away can capitalize.
Tennessee's defense has played some great games, especially on special teams. If the Vols can snag an interception or two, or come up with a fumble recovery, I really think they can pull this one off, and upset a top-15 team at home in Heupel's first season as head coach.
Prediction: Tennessee - 42 | Ole Miss - 35
Dallas Bowlin (Junior Staff Writer):
In what will be the first sellout in Neyland Stadium since 2017, Josh Heupel will be looking to get his first signature win with the Vols against the high powered offense of Ole Miss. This should be a back and forth shoot out with both teams scoring in potentially the 40’s.
Which quarterback can be more efficient: Matt Corral or Hendon Hooker? That will have a big impact on who wins this game. In the end, I like Hooker and the Vols to prevail. The Tennessee defense makes the plays necessary to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Tennessee - 48 | Ole Miss - 45
Dylan Saylor (Junior Staff Writer):
Can you feel the excitement in the air, again? Tennessee is going to have one major advantage over the Rebels, the crowd. It’ll be a true home field advantage. As the fan base is on a wave of momentum, let’s not forget Ole Miss has weapons all over the field. Rebel quarterback Matt Coral hasn’t thrown a single interception all season, and is tied for first in the SEC in rushing touchdowns. Everyone expects a high scoring affair, but don’t be surprised if it isn’t.
Prediction: Tennessee - 42 | Ole Miss - 39
William Allen (Senior Staff Writer):
Get your popcorn ready for the offensive fireworks we’re all about to witness on Saturday night between two explosive teams. Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby has the Rebels flying high with quarterback Matt Corral leading his team to a tune of 46.2 points-per-game. Hendon Hooker is arguably one of the nation's best quarterbacks, with a top-five ranking in passing efficiency after week six, slightly ahead of Corral.
The famous Kiffin clipboard toss may be put on hold, because the stingy Tennessee defense is only allowing 34.4 points per game. While both teams are surprisingly ranked fifth and sixth in rushing yards per game, converting on third downs will be the true testament of this football game. Josh Heupel is 2-0 versus Lane Kiffin all time, but Ole Miss is ranked #13, high powered and wants to leave a checkered Neyland with a checkmate.
Prediction: Tennessee - 41 | Ole Miss - 40
Zac Strickland (Junior Staff Writer):
Can you feel it? After several miserable years, the apathy and numbness many have felt towards the Vol football program is finally beginning to subside, and in its place comes renewed hope and excitement. A stadium that so far has yet to see 90,000 fans will boast a raucous sellout crowd of 102,455, clad in checkered orange and white, and starving for a signature win. The Vols of the last decade have had opportunities like this slip through their fingers (such as 2013 Georgia and 2015 Oklahoma) and an upset win here could be a sign that better days truly are not far distant.
Lane Kiffin, sure to be the recipient of many boos and obscene chants, brings his ever-potent offensive attack into Knoxville. Heisman candidate QB Matt Corral has accounted for 20 total TD’s and only 1 turnover, a lost fumble against Alabama. The team as whole boasts similarly gaudy offensive stats, ranking second nationally with upwards of 46 points scored per game. Tim Banks will probably age 5 years over the course of this week as he tries to gameplan to help a thin Vols defense slow down this loaded Rebels O.
Fortunately, the outlook is better when Tennessee has the ball. Ole Miss’s struggling defense ranks outside the top 100 in both rush and pass yardage allowed. They run a lot of dime package looks, which should have Tiyon Evans and Co. licking their chops in the run game against a light box. If Hooker takes what the defense gives him, the Vols should be able to move down the field in sizable chunks without having to put the ball in harm’s way.
Expect the most entertaining game of the season, and the type of game that would make SEC newcomers Texas and Oklahoma proud. The losing team could easily end up with 40 or more points. Going into the season I predicted the Lane Train to not only win, but to win BIG in Knoxville. However, after seeing a better-than-expected Tennessee defense, and an Ole Miss D that so far hasn’t made the leap I expected they would, this now seems to me like a true coin-flip game.
Recent history warns Vol fans to keep their cups on for a game like this. But maybe I’m drinking the Orange Kool-Aid, or simply trying to manifest a win into existence because I’m 6-for-6 picking the winner of UT games so far this year. I don’t know. But Ole Miss is also a penalty prone team, and due to that and the slight edge of the Vols defense being better than Ole Miss’s, I’ll take the bait. UT’s defense does just enough, and Chase McGrath hits a field goal at the buzzer to send Kiffin home with a L and the sellout crowd home happy.
Prediction: Tennessee - 48 | Ole Miss - 45
Joe Davis (Junior Staff Writer):
The Vols have momentum from back-to-back drubbings of South Carolina and Missouri, and a clicking offense ready to make mincemeat out of an Ole Miss defense that gives up 430 yards a game and 5.5 yards a play. The Vols will score enough to win if they were playing anyone else. But what about the defense?
Matt Corral is a Heisman contender who is slicing and dicing with one of the nation's best offensive minds calling plays behind him. So where does that leave Tennessee?
It's contain Matt Corral, or else. In a win against Arkansas, Corral ran for almost one-hundred yards and the offense flourished. In a loss against Alabama, he had ten carries for three yards. Sadly, through the years mobile quarterbacks have been an Achilles heel for Tennessee.
The Vols have made enormous strides this year, but I dont think they've made quite enough in that department. Corral and the Rebels will win this game in a wild one.
Prediction: Ole Miss - 51 | Tennessee - 42