The No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers help headline ESPN College GameDay for the second time this year when they visit the No. 8 Texas A&M Aggies Saturday in an SEC showdown with big implications at stake.
Tennessee was half of the focal point for the show a few weeks ago before dismantling then-No. 19 Florida, and head coach Butch Jones hopes to do the same again this weekend.
The College GameDay crew will hit College Station in full force, celebrating its 20th season featuring Lee Corso‘s headgear pick. According to ESPN.com’s Anna Negron, Corso started the tradition this week in 1996 and has since gone a strong 186-95.
In other words, fans of both the Volunteers and Aggies will want to tune in to see which mascot Corso decides to toss on his shoulders.
ESPN College GameDay Week 6 Info
Date: Saturday, Oct. 8
Time (ET): 9 a.m. to noon; game is at 3:30 p.m.
Location: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
Watch: ESPN; game is on CBS
By some accounts, the higher-ranked team that is playing at home seems to have little going for it.
The Aggies have question marks around key players, including one of the best overall players in the country, defensive end Myles Garrett, who has a lower leg injury.
On the other side of the ball, though, the team isn’t revealing much about the injury status of top wideouts Speedy Noil (6 catches, 84 yards, 1 touchdown) and Ricky Seals-Jones (10 catches, 175 yards).
Battered and bruised, the Aggies still pulled out a 24-13 win against South Carolina without the aforementioned players, but they now have to deal with a Tennessee team that has stormed from behind in four of five games to tally major victories.
Senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs deserves most of the credit for getting the Volunteers to this point undefeated. He has accounted for 18 total touchdowns and orchestrated game-clinching drives on a regular basis. Saturday Down South showed how Dobbs‘ evolution as a player has helped the Volunteers more than anything else:
“He’s a great leader,” Tennessee guard Jack Jones said, according to the Associated Press’ Steve Megargee. “[Dobbs] having that calm, cool, collected mentality, if we didn’t have that, we might be in a different position right now.”
Texas A&M can relate to the clutch gene. Quarterback has been a strength, but in a different way. Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight has only seven passing touchdowns to three interceptions, but he leads the team with six rushing touchdowns and sits less than 100 yards (392) off the team lead in rushing yards behind Trayveon Williams (487).
Jones isn’t discrediting the Knight-led offense.
“I think Trevor Knight has really changed their offense,” Jones said, according to ESPN.com. “He’s managing their offense. He can hurt you with his arm. He can hurt you with his legs.”
Indeed, the Aggies have scored a minimum of 24 points in every game this year, including 31 in overtime against then-No. 16 UCLA to start the season and 45 when it throttled then-No. 17 Arkansas two weeks ago.
The potency of both offenses and the fact that Garrett is a question mark make Saturday’s marquee matchup look like a 50-50 affair.
Las Vegas thinks both SEC teams could score often Saturday, with the over/under listed at 57, according to Odds Shark. The Aggies are favored by a touchdown.
It’s quite the interesting spread. Sure, Tennessee has played every game close this year and has to enter hostile territory. That’s not too daunting for Dobbs, though, the comeback machine who suited up in front of 156,000 and change at Bristol Motor Speedway against Virginia Tech.
Adding to the above points, it’s not like Texas A&M has started games hot either. In fact, the Aggies haven’t scored first in any game this season except against the Prairie View A&M Panthers.
In what seems destined to be a close-scoring affair, the obvious route is to roll with the team that has proved capable in such scenarios time and time again. Texas A&M might boast home-field advantage, but Tennessee has the better quarterback who is ready to once again put on a show no matter the environment or odds.
Prediction: Volunteers 34, Aggies 30
Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
Follow Chris Roling (@Chris_Roling) on Twitter.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News