Preview: Tennessee Looks to Stay Perfect in Trip to Death Valley

No. 8 Tennessee travels to Death Valley to face No. 25 LSU on Saturday in the only top-25 SEC matchup of the week.

The Volunteers haven’t played at Tiger Stadium since 2010, and haven’t won in Baton Rouge since 2005. LSU and Tennessee don’t play very often, which makes the game even more intriguing. 

Tennessee catches a break with the game being an early kick. Even though this is the only ranked SEC matchup this week, the Vols and Tigers will play at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Everybody knows how hostile of an environment Tiger Stadium is at night. Tiger Stadium is sold out and will still be raucous, but it is easier to catch LSU in a contest that begins in the morning locally.

Injury Report

Tennessee star wide receiver Cedric Tillman will probably miss his second game in a row with an ankle injury. This is still a huge blow, but the Vols’ wide receivers room is very deep and loaded with talent.

Look for Remel Keaton to have another great game replacing Tillman. Even without Tillman, the Vols offense didn’t skip a beat in a 38-33 win over Florida two weeks ago.

Head coach Josh Heupel revealed that senior defensive back Warren Burrell will miss the remainder of the season with an upper body injury. Tennessee has struggled defending the pass all year long, and losing a veteran starter doesn’t help.

On a positive note in the secondary, junior Dee Williams will finally be available to play this week. No one really knows how much Williams will play against the Tigers, but the Vols need all the help they can get in the defensive backfield. Some believe Williams could be the Vols’ best defensive back when all is said and done.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels has been banged up the past couple of weeks. Daniels left last week’s 21-17 win over Auburn in the fourth quarter and didn’t return. Daniels is good to go this week, but his mobility could be a question.

At full strength, Daniels can be a huge factor with legs. The Vols have struggled with mobile quarterbacks early in 2022.

Keys to the Game

Last week, The Tigers got off to a very slow start against Auburn, falling behind 17-0 in the first half. If LSU gets off to another slow start, the Vols could very easily blow the Tigers out.

With Tennessee’s offense playing the way it is, LSU has to run a lot of clock and can’t turn the ball over. If the Tigers do that, they have a chance to pull off the upset at home against a top-10 team. 

Tennessee needs to score early and often and not beat itself. If Tennessee doesn’t turn the ball over and gets a couple stops here and there, it could win convincingly.

LSU is looking to start off 3-0 in SEC play and 5-1 overall to begin head coach Brian Kelly’s tenure. The Vols are trying to beat their third ranked opponent of the season, and trying to start off 5-0 for the first time since 2016.

This game could decide who the best team in the SEC is behind Alabama and Georgia. In one of the most intriguing games of the week, the winner will take a huge step forward in the SEC race.

Can LSU defend its home turf and take down a top-10 opponent in Kelly’s first year? Can the Vols remain undefeated?

We’ll find out on Saturday.

Featured image courtesy of LSU athletics