The Tennessee football team looks to be elite, but it cannot afford to overlook LSU in the lead-up to the Third Saturday in October next weekend vs. Alabama.
Josh Heupel has his Tennessee football team looking dominant in his second year on the job, but Saturday would be a bad time for the Vols to suffer their first loss of the season.
Tennessee enters play as the No. 8 team in the country. While the Vols finally have a team that stands a chance to beat Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Third Saturday in October, it would be such a shame if Rocky Top overlooked Brian Kelly’s LSU football family this weekend. Yes, the Volunteers are playing the No. 25 Tigers in Death Valley on Saturday afternoon.
Without question, this is the biggest test for Tennessee since Heupel took over the program.
Tennessee football’s biggest test under Josh Heupel: Death Valley on Saturday
Even at roughly the midway point of the regular season, Tennessee still has plenty of its rivalry games left to be played. Although the Vols proved victorious over a rebuilding Florida Gators team in Billy Napier’s first season in Gainesville, Tennessee still has to play Alabama in two weeks, Kentucky at the end of the month and Georgia at Sanford on what might be a Nov. 5 to remember.
Even if this is Kelly’s first year in Baton Rouge, his team overcame a heartbreaking loss at the Superdome to Florida State on Labor Day Weekend to land in the AP Top 25 Poll five weeks later. Of course, a home loss would be all she wrote for the Tigers having any staying power in the top 25 going forward, but it is a testament to how good of a coach Kelly is for them to even be a part of it.
It may not be a Baton Rouge Saturday Night for Rocky Top, but Heupel’s team needs to find a way to get it done on the road. They may host Alabama next weekend, but the Crimson Tide have shamelessly owned them for the better part of two decades now. Two losses before the Kentucky game would signify that Tennessee is merely a good, but not great football team at this juncture.
What makes this game so important is the Vols are getting the Bayou Bengals on the come-up under Kelly. It is evident that LSU will probably be back to being LSU by this time next season, if not sooner. Not to say this is a big deal for the Vols, as they do not play the Tigers annually, but a road win over LSU could serve as a springboard to propel Tennessee past their three biggest rivals.
Alabama and Georgia still loom large in conference play, but the Crimson Tide and the Dawgs have shown at times this season that they are beatable. While Kentucky did suffer a tough road loss to Ole Miss last Saturday, the Wildcats are every bit as good as many of the other great teams in the SEC. Simply put, LSU is not on the level of those three teams, so Tennessee has to take advantage.
If Tennessee is 5-0 heading into the Third Saturday in October, they have a real shot at the upset.