South Carolina Tops Tennessee 15-9: What Does It All Mean?
South Carolina went South Carolina on Tennessee, winning ugly, but winning. What does it all mean?
South Carolina 15, Tennessee 9
Prediction: South Carolina 26, Tennessee 17
Line: Tennessee -2.5 o/u: 48.5
Ohhhhhhhh, Butch Jones. NOOOOOOOOOO.
And now Tennessee gets Alabama. No big deal.
This will be all about Tennessee losing, but give South Carolina credit for winning in Knoxville. The team is offensively challenged, it doesn’t have a whole lot of playmakers, and there are way too many holes in all phases. But South Carolina won, and Tennessee didn’t.
This is the epitome of the Will Muschamp coaching style. Any team, any game, any week, it’s just good enough to keep the Gamecocks alive and kicking with a chance to win. It’s also just rocky enough to keep the other team alive with a shot to pull it off in the final seconds.
There’s no shame in losing at home to Georgia – that’s a College Football Playoff team. There’s no shame in losing at home to South Carolina in a hard-fought SEC game. There’s a whole lot of shame in not scoring a touchdown in two straight home games.
Parker White hit all three of his field goals. Considering South Carolina’s massive issues on special teams and in the kicking game this year, he saved the day. At some point, though, it would be nice if the Gamecocks turned good drives into touchdowns.
Tennessee, did you forget about John Kelly? He only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, but he only got 16 carries for 58 yards. The Vols were never able to take control of the game.
Jarrett Guarantano didn’t do anything until the final moments. Almost all of his 133 yards came on the last-gasp drive, but give him credit. He put the Vols in a position to pull it off in the final seconds.
No interceptions. Jake Bentley only completed 15-of-24 passes for 86 yards, but he didn’t turn the ball over and he was good enough on third downs. USC converted 5-of-13 chances and had the ball for almost 33 minutes. Tennessee never got into a groove – that’s Will Muschamp football, and it worked.
So now what for Tennessee? At 3-3 with a trip to Alabama up next, the Vols are almost certainly going to be 3-4 needing to win three of the last five games just to go bowling. But that’s not the point – it’s that Tennessee has to fight just to get to a mediocre bowl game. So is that it for Butch? If he doesn’t beat Alabama, almost certainly.
So now what for South Carolina? The Gamecocks are deep in the hunt for the SEC East title. It’ll take some help – they already have two conference losses – but they still get Georgia and Florida. Win both, hope for a second Bulldog loss, and then roll the dice.
At the very least, at 5-2 with Wofford still on the schedule and Vanderbilt up next, a bowl bit is almost guaranteed. Just going bowling isn’t where the bar is set, but don’t dismiss it. This is still a growing, building program under Muschamp – getting to a bowl game and being more than just competitive is fantastic.
South Carolina just beat Tennessee at Tennessee for just the third time. This has been a good season.