Week 7 CFB Preview: Can the Vols Turn the Tide?

It’s the Third Saturday in October. Tennessee and Alabama both have their cigars ready for this one.

Both teams come into the game undefeated. The Volunteers smoked out LSU last week in Baton Rouge. The Vols scored early and often and shut down the Tigers, 40–13.

The Crimson Tide suffered a scare last week at home against Texas A&M.

Alabama’s four turnovers kept the Aggies in the game. An errant throw on the last play of the game sealed the 24-20 victory for the Tide. Alabama head coach Nick Saban did a great job of breaking down the last play on his postgame show.

The two teams meet at Neyland Stadium for the SEC on CBS Game of the Week at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The game, like the intro song, should give all college football fans goosebumps.

The Vols haven’t defeated the Tide since 2006 when Phillip Fulmer and Mike Shula coached the teams. Tennessee has struggled, to put it lightly, against all top-10 teams since 2007. It is a combined 0–39.

The Vols are ahead of schedule in 2022. Here are three keys for the Vols to turn the Tide on Saturday:

Hendon Hooker 🆚 Will Anderson Jr.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker leads the No. 1 rated offense in the country. He has thrived in Josh Heupel’s “Baylor offense.” The Vols have gone for more than 500 yards in five of six games this season and are averaging 46.8 points per game.

The Tide run a lot of man schemes and will leave their cornerbacks on an island. If Hooker has time, he should be able to exploit the Bama defense.

Standing in his way will be one of the best players in college football, Will Anderson Jr.. Anderson wreaked havoc last week on Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King.

The Crimson Tide linebacker accounted for 11 pressures alone in the game. He must be neutralized if Hooker and the Vols are going to continue to cook.

Bryce Young’s Shoulder 

The Tide will need quarterback Bryce Young to return this week if they are going to continue their streak against the Vols. Jalen Milroe is a great runner but only passed for 111 yards against the Aggies.

He hurt himself further by turning the ball over three times, which led to 17 Texas A&M points.

The Vols’ defense is ranked second in the SEC and held LSU to 55 rushing yards last week. Their secondary plays more of a bend-don’t-break style. We saw that a few weeks ago when Florida was able to move the ball at will but had a few costly turnovers.

A healthy, or at least serviceable, Young and Jahmr Gibbs give the Tide the best chance to stretch the field and win.

Neyland Stadium

Neyland Stadium will be glowing orange on Saturday afternoon. Tennessee must come out focused and ready from the jump. Athletics director Danny White is making the necessary preparations:

Alabama struggled against Texas in Austin earlier this season. Neyland Stadium will be turning it up. Head coach Josh Heupel and the Vols will try to match their intensity.

Tweet of the Week: #GoFrogs

https://twitter.com/ItsMeCoachP/status/1578959958422720513?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1578959958422720513%7Ctwgr%5E733c79b69c5e9d28d77e259e8e7baab9d69891af%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fcdn.embedly.com%2Fwidgets%2Fmedia.html%3Ftype%3Dtext2Fhtmlkey%3Da19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07schema%3Dtwitterurl%3Dhttps3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fitsmecoachp%2Fstatus%2F1578959958422720513image%3Dhttps3A%2F%2Fi.embed.ly%2F1%2Fimage3Furl3Dhttps253A252F252Fabs.twimg.com252Ferrors252Flogo46x38.png26key3Da19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07

This space is usually reserved for the stat of the week, but we decided to change course. Plus, we couldn’t decide between Oklahoma’s nonexistent defense or Iowa punting its way to a field goal last week in Champaign.

So, in honor of Dan Wetzel and Pat Forde, we will “say something nice.

It was nice to see Gary Patterson checking in on the TCU score after the Red River Showdown. Patterson came to Fort Worth as the Horned Frogs’ defensive coordinator in 1998 and became their head coach in 2001. He “resigned” from his position last year when the university wanted to go in a new direction.

It’s cool to see that the poor ending didn’t sour his feelings for his former players. Patterson was 181–70 in his 21 years as head coach. He led TCU to 17 bowl appearances and six AP top-10 finishes, including No. 2 in 2010 and No. 3 in 2013.

Week 7 Picks

Don’t make plans for Saturday. You’re not going to want to miss a second of some of the most exciting games of the season. This week will also give a clearer picture of who is a contender and who is just a pretender.

🎟 Penn State 🆚 Michigan (-6.5)
📍 Michigan Stadium
⏰ 12 p.m. ET
📺 FOX
💰#WeAre

Michigan is 6–0. After a soft non-conference schedule, the Wolverines have defeated Maryland, Iowa, and Indiana in Big Ten play. The Wolverines face their toughest test of the season against Penn State. The Nittany Lions’ ground game keeps this one under a touchdown.

Penn State Lacrosse GIF by NCAA Championships - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎟 Auburn 🆚 Ole Miss(-15)
📍 Vaught-Hemingway 🏟
⏰ 12 p.m. ET
📺 ESPN
💰 #HottyToddy #ComeToTheSip

Auburn and Brian Harsin are moving on from each other, we think. This week, they face the Rebels and quite possibly the next Tigers’ head coach. Lane Kiffin has led the Rebels to the 10th-best record in the country over the last 25 games at 20–5 — ahead of both Michigan and Notre Dame. Kiffin has expressed his frustration with the Rebel fans on their attendance. Jordan-Hare Stadium would welcome him with open arms.

Lets Go Football GIF by Ole Miss Rebels - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎟 Kansas 🆚 Oklahoma (-7.5)
📍 Gaylord Family 🏟
⏰ 12 p.m. ET
📺 ESPN2
💰#RockChalk

The Jayhawks suffered their first loss last week and conflicting reports have Jalon Daniels also lost for the season. Jason Bean stepped up for Kansas and threw for 270 yards and four touchdowns. It’s tough to understand Las Vegas and its love of Oklahoma. The Sooners are broken, especially after last weekend’s disaster at the Red River Showdown. Did Texas just score again?

Jayhawks Rockchalk GIF by kualumni - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎟 Iowas State 🆚 Texas (-16.5)
📍 DK Royal 🏟
⏰ 12 p.m.
📺 ABC
💰 #HookEM 🤘

Speaking of Texas, the Longhorns are averaging 4.37 points per drive when Quinn Ewers is on the field. Ohio State is currently No. 1 in points per drive at 4.13 (via Max Olson). The Longhorn defense is playing with a great mean streak. They continue to build off of Red River.

College Basketball Fans GIF by Texas Longhorns - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎟 Minnesota (-6.5) 🆚 Illinois
📍 Memorial 🏟
⏰ 12 p.m. ET
📺 Big Ten Network
💰 #Illini #famILLy

The Fighting Illini’s contest against Iowa was a tough watch last week. The key to this matchup will be the Illini defense against the Golden Gophers’ running attack. Illinois head coach Bret Bielema looks to crash the boat and make it three straight over his Big Ten West counterparts.

Dance Football GIF by Fighting Illini Athletics - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎟 Alabama (-7.5) 🆚 Tennessee
📍 Neyland 🏟
⏰ 3:30 p.m. ET
📺 CBS
💰 #RockyTop

This will be an electric environment. The crowd will be an advantage. The last one with the ball wins this one. If Hooker can escape Anderson, the Vol Navy will go wild.

Tennessee Football Ut GIF by Tennessee Athletics - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎟 Oklahoma State 🆚 TCU (-3.5)
📍 Amon G. Carter 🏟
⏰ 3:30 p.m. ET
📺 ABC
💰 #GoPokes

This might be the second-best matchup of the weekend. Oklahoma State has once again found its high-flying offense. This one should be a classic Big 12 game. The winner may have to score more than 45 to win.

Oklahoma Football Orange GIF by Oklahoma State University - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎟 Clemson (-3.5) 🆚 Florida State
📍 Doak Campbell 🏟
⏰ 7:30 p.m. ET
📺 ABC
💰#AllIn

Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis had NC State in his sights last week. The Seminoles were in field goal range when he threw it up for grabs and the Wolfpack sealed it with a game-deciding interception. Those types of decisions show that FSU is still not quite back yet. Head coach Dabo Swinney brings his dancing shoes to Doak.

College Sports Dancing GIF by Clemson Tigers - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎟 USC 🆚 Utah(-3.5)
📍 Rice-Eccles 🏔
⏰ 8 p.m. ET
📺 FOX
💰 #FightOn

A quick glance at the stats tells you these two teams are evenly matched. Rice-Eccles Stadium poses challenges for opposing teams. This one should be another highly entertaining matchup. The Men of Troy stay perfect with their sights on a Pac-12 South championship.

Pom Pom GIF by USC Trojans - Find & Share on GIPHY

🎟 Washington State 🆚 Oregon State (-3)
📍 Reser 🏔
⏰ 9 p.m.
📺 Pac-12 Network
💰#GoCougs

Can we call this the Spite Bowl? With all of the movement and talk of Pac-12 teams leaving for the Big Ten or Big 12, both teams seem to be forgotten. This should prove to be an exciting nightcap for the third Saturday in October.

Washington Football Team Wsu GIF by Pac-12 Network - Find & Share on GIPHY

Last week ATS: 6–4
Overall: 23–33–2
Grab your 🍿 and enjoy the games!