The Tennessee Volunteers take a trip to Jordan Hare stadium in Auburn, Alabama, to take on the 21st ranked Auburn Tigers Saturday night at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The Tigers open up as ten point favorites versus the Volunteers; However, the public jumped on the home team to increase this number to 11 points, currently. The total has remained at 50.5 since opening.
Tennessee has not been able to stop the bleeding in their last four games as they enter this contest losers of four straight games, with their last being a 24-13 road loss versus the Arkansas Razorbacks. To make matters worse, Tennessee is 0-4 against the number in their last four games, including losing as two-point favorites versus the Razorbacks. Auburn, on the other hand, will seek its third straight victory as they were able to take out the LSU Tigers October 31st as one point favorites . And while the Tigers certainly struggled against the spread in the beginning of the season in going 1-3 in their first four games, the Tigers have since rebounded and have won two straight against the number entering this contest.
These teams have not met since October of 2018 when the Volunteers were able to pick up a 30-24 road win versus the Tigers at Jordan-Hare as 14.5 point underdogs. In fact, the Volunteers have covered in two straight games versus Auburn on the road .
Guarantano may be a no-go versus Crimson TideThe Volunteers are certainly struggling entering this contest, particularly on the offensive end, as the team is ranked 100th or worse in total yards per game, passing yards, along with points scored. In fact, Tennessee has posted 21 points or less in each of their last four contests . However, the team has been able to rely on a dangerous rushing attack led by running back Eric Gray, who has 628 yards along with four touchdowns in 2020 to lead the team. Gray has posted 100 rushing yards or more in two of his last three contests, including finishing with 123 yards and a rushing score versus Arkansas.
Tennessee may find some opportunities in this contest versus Auburn as the Tigers have been a bit shaky in defending the run this season in allowing just under 160k yards rushing to opponents. It should be mentioned that since the Georgia Bulldogs gave up just -1 yards rushing to Tennessee in a blowout victory, the rushing attack for the Volunteers have rushed for an average of over 160 yards per game in their following three matchups.
Nonetheless, if Tennessee wishes to keep this game competitive, they must get more out of their passing attack, which is putting up just under 170 yards passing per game, ranking them 108th in the country. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano is completing just 61% of his passes on the year for 956 yards, six touchdown passes, along with three interceptions. It should be added that the quarterback has thrown for under 100 yards in two of his last three games in addition to having just two touchdown passes alongside two interceptions during this time.
Guarantano, however, went 21-32 passing versus Auburn in 2018 for 328 yards along with two touchdowns passes . And while he does not have many options on the outside , Tennessee possesses talent in receiver Josh Palmer, who leads the team with 328 receiving yards on the season along with four touchdowns . In fact, Palmer is averaging 15 yards per catch in 2020 while receiver Brandon Johnson has also been effective within the passing game in racking up 179 yards on the season.
Again, with Auburn giving up just under 240 yards passing per game to their opponents, Guarantano and company will certainly be able to find some opportunities to stretch the field a bit in this game. That is, if Guarantano can actually suit up, as he is currently on the injured list due to a head injury. Nonetheless, head coach Jeremy Pruitt has been optimistic of the QB suiting up Saturday, as he is certainly their best option under center.
Linebacker DeAndre Johnson is the heart and soul of the Tennessee defense as he has 12 solo tackles on the year alongside 4.5 sacks in addition to a forced fumble. The unit was able to record a total of four sacks versus Arkansas with defensive lineman Ja'Qain Blakely, who recorded his first sack of the year. Linebacker Devon Bennett had two sacks in the contest as well while defensive back Theo Jackson led the team with eight tackles in the loss. Nonetheless, the Volunteers were simply destroyed within the trenches as the Arkansas Razorbacks were able to rush for just under 200 yards.
Defending the run has certainly been a task for the Volunteers in 2020 as they are ranked 62nd in the nation in allowing 161 yards per game on the ground to opponents. Expect them to certainly be tested early and often versus an Auburn rushing attack that is averaging over 171 yards on the ground per game. Important to note that defensive lineman Latrell Bumphus is already out for the season with a leg injury while defensive back Shawn Shamburger is out for the season due to academics.
Auburn's offense on fireNot only has Auburn's rushing attack been dominant in their last four outings averaging over 200 yards per contest, the passing attack, which is putting up 235 yards per game and ranked 63rd in the nation , has also elevated its game during this time as well. Quarterback Bo Nix has combined for over 800 yards in the last three games for the Tigers while completing over 75% of his passes in two of those contests. Furthermore, aside from Nix throwing three picks versus the South Carolina Gamecocks on October 17th, the signal-caller has certainly rebounded in throwing five touchdown passes alongside zero interceptions.
Expect Nix to locate opportunities downfield versus a Volunteers defensive secondary that is ranked 81st in stopping the pass in allowing just under 251 yards per game. However, it should be mentioned that Tennessee has allowed under 200 yards passing versus its last three opponents. Nonetheless, expect Auburn to utilize their playmakers on the outside with receivers Anthony Schwartz, who has 422 yards along with two scores on the season, along with receiver Seth Williams, 511 yards and three touchdowns. In addition to this, wide receiver Eli stove has also shown potential in having three touchdowns on the season .
Again, the rushing attack has really shined for the Tigers this season as Tank Bigsby is leading the team with 587 yards along with five touchdowns. In fact, Bigsby has recorded 100-yard rushing nights in three of his four games while accumulating a total of five touchdown runs during this time. Nix has also shown his importance to the rushing attack as well as he is averaging 4.4 yards per carry in 2020 while also having three touchdown runs. Again, Tennessee has not defended the run very well this season and will surely receive a huge dose of the rushing attack from an Auburn offense that has suddenly awakened from its slumber after a rough start to the season.
Defensively, the Tigers enter this contest on a high after allowing the LSU Tigers to post only a total of 32 yards rushing . Furthermore, Auburn was able to get to the quarterback frequently as the team recorded four sacks while forcing three turnovers. Important to note that Auburn allowed 70 rushing yards to the Volunteers in their most recent meeting while also getting to Guarantano three times.
In six games this season, the Auburn defense has recorded a total of six turnovers , ranking them 43rd in the nation as defensive back Rodger McCreary has not only 22 solo tackles on the year, but two interceptions along with a forced fumble. Furthermore, linebacker of Kobe McLean has accumulated 32 solo tackles along with leading the team in sacks with two. Linebacker Derrick Hall led the Tiger charge versus LSU as he racked up two sacks on the day while linebacker T. D. Moultrie also had a sack in addition to defensive tackle Marquis Burke.
Also, when considering the recent play of defensive end Big Kat Bryant along with defensive backs Smoke Monday and Nehemia Pritchett, and Auburn will take the field with tons of confidence on this side of the ball.
Stats & Trends
- Volunteers are 0 - 4 ATS in their last four games
- Volunteers are 0-4 ATS in their last four games following a ATS loss
- Volunteers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 conference games
- Tigers are 6-0 ATS in their last six games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game
- Tigers are 4-1 ATS in the last five home games
With the team gaining more and more confidence on both sides of the football as of late, I expect the Auburn Tigers to take care of the Tennessee Volunteers at home in this contest. Furthermore, the Tigers have been very dominant against the spread at Jordan-Hare in recent matchups as they have covered in four of their last five, overall. Combine this with the fact that the offense for Auburn Nix having begun to really put up some huge numbers, and one could certainly expect the Tigers to roll in this contest. Also, the Volunteers have not won against the spread in three road games this season, thus allowing me to feel as though they are due for yet another dismal performance. In all, take the home team and the points in this instance.