GAMEDAY OPEN THREAD // FIVE REASONS: at Tennessee

Probably will be making my way back home until close to game time Saturday, so I'll go ahead and put up the Gameday Open Thread. As always, Five Reasons leads the way. Feel free to drop in and say how I'm wrong. Or praise my deep, perceptive insight. Actually, just drop in and do the second.

1. Steve Spurrier. The Head Ball Coach has a pretty good record against the Vols. He's 10-6 against Tennessee and 8-4 against Fulmer. Granted, Spurrier is just 1-1 against the Volunteers at South Carolina, but that includes a loss during last year's string of wildly bouncing balls and other unbelievable plays.

2. Tennessee's defense. The Volunteer defense is the team's most glaring weakness. Tennessee allows an average 32.3 points and 406.7 yards a game. Fulmer's squad made John Parker Wilson look like a Heisman candidate -- which he most certainly is not -- by allowing the Alabama signal-caller to go 32-of-46 for 363 yards and 3 TDs last week en route to a 41-17 pasting.

3. Chris Smelley starts. Spurrier has told Smelley that the game is his to win. We can hope that the week of competition and the fact that Spurrier gave high marks to the other QB choices will keep Smelley focused. Six bad quarters is not a reason to panic -- yet.

4. Cory Boyd and Mike Davis. Spurrier made it clear last week that he regretted only handing the ball to Boyd and Davis 11 times in the loss to Vanderbilt. Here's betting they get a combined 30 carries minimum on Saturday.

5. The Vanderbilt loss. An upset can do one of two things to a team: It can get players focused on fixing the problems and not allowing history to repeat itself, or it can deflate a team. Here's hoping it's the former in this case.


1. Steve Spurrier. Almost hate to write that one, but consider this: He got too conservative during the second half of the North Carolina win, and too wide-open during the Vanderbilt loss. It's almost inconceivable for Spurrier to go more than six quarters without snapping out of a play-calling funk. But until someone's out of a slump, it's a factor.

2. Tennessee's defense. Yes, they're generally terrible. But not so much at home. In Knoxville, the Vols are giving up a not-horrible 324.7 and 20 points a game. Tennessee also has four of its five picks at home.

3. The Tennesssee offense. The strongest part of the 2007 Volunteers is their scoring ability. The team is averaging 416.4 yards and 31.9 points a game. If Tyrone Nix and the defense can't figure out a way to slow down QB Erik Ainge and Co., this game is unwinnable.

4. Arian Foster. He's run for 8 TDs and 89.3 yards a game this year. In other words, Foster is perfectly positioned to reel off 100-110 yards against the Gamecocks.

5. The Vanderbilt loss. An upset can do one of two things to a team: It can get players focused on fixing the problems and not allowing history to repeat itself, or it can deflate a team. If it's the latter for South Carolina, Saturday could be the beginning of a long end to the season.

PREDICTION: South Carolina 24, Tennessee 21 I'm sticking with my preseason call that the Gamecocks come out in a narrow victory. To do that, they'll need to keep the score low.

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