We at InsideTennessee love a good debate. That's why we think you'll enjoy Devil's Advocate. Each week one staffer presents evidence why Tennessee will win/beat the spread, while another staffer offers a spirited rebuttal on behalf of the opposing team.
Here are this week's arguments:
By Randy Moore
Tennessee's game plan for Saturday's showdown with LSU is fiendishly simple but diabolically brilliant:
First and 10: Tauren Poole at left tackle, loss of two yards.
Second and 12: Poole at right tackle, loss of three yards.
Third and 15: Matt Simms to Da' Rick Rogers, gain of 16 yards and a first down.
Sorry, but I couldn't resist chiding Vol fans who grumbled "Third-and-Chavis" every time an opponent converted a third-and-long situation during John Chavis' stint as Tennessee's defensive coordinator. Chavis seems to be a lot smarter now that he's coaching the elite athletes who populate LSU's defense, doesn't he?
Regardless, I'll concede up front that Tennessee won't score a lot of points Saturday against a Tiger defense that might be the NCAA's finest. The Vols won't have to, though. They nearly beat LSU with 14 points last fall ... in Baton Rouge, no less.
Tennessee has a chance any time it faces LSU because Derek Dooley has Les Miles' number. Dooley's awful 2009 Louisiana Tech team led LSU for a half at Tiger Stadium before wilting due to inferior depth and losing 24-16. Dooley's mediocre 2010 Vols led LSU 14-10, also at Tiger Stadium, with mere seconds remaining. Only an incredible mistake by Tennessee - too many men on the field - gave LSU a do-over that the Tigers parlayed into a 16-14 victory.
Dooley has outcoached Miles twice in a row only to lose once on a lack of depth and once on a fluke. You know what they say about the third time being the charm, right? Moreover, this meeting will be at Neyland Stadium.
Here's another reason Tennessee has a puncher's chance Saturday: The Vols are feeling no pressure since nobody expects them to compete, let alone win. Conversely, the Tigers have a national title at stake and a No. 1 ranking to protect. All of the pressure is on them.
Dooley's mastery of Miles won't be enough to win this game. The home-field advantage won't be enough to win this game. The disparity in pressure on Tennessee and LSU won't be enough to win this game. But those three factors combined just might be enough to enable the Big Orange to shock the world.
By Danny Parker
The one chance Tennessee had of winning against the country's top-ranked team was to exploit matchup problems in the passing game, whether it be passes completed to Da'Rick Rogers, Mychal Rivera or Justin Hunter from quarterback Tyler Bray.
Obviously that can't happen now that Bray and Hunter are out with injuries and will be cheerleaders at best on Saturday.
The combination of the Volunteers' being totally inept running the football and LSU's lightning quick defense is likely to result in some boo birds with Tennessee fans turning on their team at the once-supportive Neyland Stadium.
Vol quarterback Matt Simms may have a tremendous amount of experience and leadership for a collegiate back-up quarterback, but he was on the bench for a reason — his inability to deliver the football on time to open receivers.
Simms' opposing quarterback, Jarrett Lee, is one of the keys to helping LSU turn the corner as a football team. The senior is completing 60.2 percent of his passes and has delivered eight touchdowns compared to just one interception.
Truth be told, the product on the field the Bayou Bengals are sporting this season is exactly what Derek Dooley seeks to have in Knoxville with how they deliver punch after punch to their opponents and physically challenge all comers.
If the Tigers can deliver a haymaker early into the afternoon, it could be one of the sadder performances of the century for Big Orange fans to witness as LSU won't let up once it gets people on the mat.