How will BYU and Tennessee respond after tough losses? It’s anybody’s guess after both teams head into Knoxville after deflating losses. Our Vanquish the Foe staff gives predictions of how we think the game will turn out.
Robby McCombs: Vegas has Tennessee as a 3.5-point favorite, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how both teams will respond to tough losses. The Vols have some great athletes at the skill positions, and BYU’s secondary will tested more than they were versus the Utes. However, I feel BYU has an advantage in the trenches. Tennessee has a young, inexperienced O-Line where they’re still rotating bodies to try and find the right mix of guys. They have some talent on the defensive line, but the line and linebackers were exposed versus Georgia State’s option attack. I expect a heavy does of Ty’Son Williams to take advantage of that front seven and alleviate some pressure off Zach Wilson. If BYU’s defensive line can take advantage of the young Vols front, I like BYU in this one.
Prediction: BYU 30, Tennessee 27
Phil Hiatt: The Utah loss was a tough one to swallow because of the high expectations coming out of the summer. But, after a few days to think about it, I’m not too worried about its effect on the season. Yes, we all wanted to beat Utah, but we can still come out of our first four games of the season at 2-2. After watching Tennessee get dismantled by Georgia State, BYU fans had one of two reactions: “oh crap, this is a wake up call before the BYU game”, or “hey, this team isn’t nearly as good as Utah, we can handle them.” I’m choosing to think the latter is true. And after speaking with Rocky Top Talk this week, I think most BYU fans should too. BYU’s offensive line held Utah’s pass rush in check for most of the game, and they are going to have it much easier in Knoxville. Tennessee only has one quality pass rusher they rely on, so look for Zach Wilson to have plenty of time to find receivers. The Vols’ o-line is inexperienced, so I look for BYU’s D-line to bring pressure with just 4 rushers. That will do loads of good for the secondary as well, allowing more players to play in coverage. Zayne Anderson and Isaiah Kaufusi were both as good as advertised at the linebacker position, and they will lead the team in holding Tennessee’s offense in check. I see BYU winning fairly easily.
Prediction: BYU 35, Tennessee 27
Jake Welch: There is a long standing tradition in the Welch family in which my parents and their friends travel to a high-profile BYU football game and the Cougars lose in spectacular fashion. Such losses include the 2018 Washington blowout, the 2016 West Virginia blunder, the 2015 Michigan disaster and the 2014 Wisconsin meh-fest. As luck would have it they’re traveling to Knoxville this weekend to see the Cougars face the Vols. Is this the reason why I think BYU will lose? Of course it is but it’s not the only reason why. Tenneesse, despite their terrible loss to Georgia State, remains a talented team with solid skill position players on offense. BYU’s defense held up relatively well against Utah but it was clear that the Cougars can be challenged between the tackles. When BYU is on offense the Vols will be able to cover up with receivers easily with 1v1 coverage and provide more help against the run and covering up the only offensive threat in the passing game, Matt Bushman. BYU will be able to score points but not quite enough to topple Tennessee.
Prediction: Tennessee 30, BYU 24
Chase Troutner: If there’s anything I’ve learned in my years ignoring occasionally watching Tennessee football, it’s that the Vols have a weakness: football players from the Southeastern United States who are pretty good at running while holding a football.
Fortunately for BYU, they have one of those players in Ty’Son Williams. I expect a good day on the ground for the Cougs, which will lead to a very efficient day for Zach Wilson.
Tennessee will definitely come out angry after their hilarious loss to Georgia State, and will make a good game out of it. They’ll take the lessons they learn from this game in Tuscaloosa in a few weeks, and will only lose to Alabama by 20 points.
Prediction: BYU 37, Tennessee 28
Brett Hein: Predictions are hard. I usually shy away from making them. So for this week, I’m pulling from what could be the most inconsequential of factors: the weather.
A review of Knoxville weather predictions shows a humidity in the 80%s and 90%s in the days before and after, but abnormally low humidity in the low 40%s as kickoff approaches. That will take some of the bite out of what could’ve been a home-field weather advantage and keep BYU from getting too sapped of its energy, being unused to such a climate.
That will allow the Cougars to stave off what could become a disastrous start to the season by squeaking by the Vols.
Prediction: BYU 23, Tennessee 21
Marcus Russell: Tennessee’s roster is loaded with talent and their home crowd is going to be raucous and eager to move on from their embarrassing defeat to Georgia State. I do not expect this game to be a shootout and Ty’Son Williams should receive a lot more carries this week. In the end I think Tennessee QB, Jarrett Guarantano, is going to be able to find holes in the BYU secondary and do just enough to beat the Cougars.
Prediction: Tennessee 21, BYU 17