Tennessee will host Arkansas on Saturday at Neyland Stadium in a game neither team can afford to lose. Despite high preseason expectations, this Week 5 matchup features two teams searching for a bounce-back win after disappointing losses.
Here’s everything you need to know leading up to Saturday’s game:
Arkansas Razorbacks (1-3) at Tennessee Volunteers (2-2)
Kickoff: Sat., Oct. 3, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Weather: 60 degrees, 75 percent chance of rain
Line: Tennessee – 7 (according to Bovada)
By the numbers
86 – Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd and Arkansas’ Alex Collins are tied for the most rushing attempts in the SEC. Collins ranks third in the conference with 502 rushing yards, while Hurd is sixth with 402. With a high chance of rain on Saturday, both backs should continue to be the focal point of their teams’ run-heavy offenses.
9 – Tennessee has thrown only nine passes in the fourth quarter of its first four games, according to Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The Vols threw two passes against Bowling Green, two passes against Oklahoma, zero against Western Carolina and five passes against Florida in “The Swamp.” While the stats are shocking, it’s important to note that Tennessee held an advantage late in each game and attempted to run out the clock.
6.5 – The Arkansas defense ranks No. 116 in the FBS with 6.5 yards allowed per play. The Tennessee offense ranks No. 83 nationally in yards per play. The Vols rushing offense is averaging 4.6 yards per play while the passing offense is averaging 7.2. This matchup should favor Tennessee with two standout running backs in Hurd and Alvin Kamara playing at home.
Storylines to watch
Will Tennessee be more aggressive late in game?
The Vols were a completely different team from the first half to the second in Saturday’s loss to Florida. Tennessee scored its first touchdown on a double screen pass and its second after a fourth-down jump pass by running back Alvin Kamara, before nearly abandoning the passing game late. The Vols also decided not to go for two while ahead by 12, leading some to wonder if it ultimately cost them an overtime appearance.
Which coach will earn a much-needed win?
Butch Jones and Bret Bielema are both in their third seasons with their respective programs. Obviously, things could be better for both through their first four games this season. Both Arkansas and Tennessee need a victory to grab momentum facing tough October schedules. Despite the absence of hype many expected in the preseason, this game still provides each team with the opportunity to capture its first SEC win early of the season.
Will Derek Barnett find his stride?
Tennessee sophomore Derek Barnett hasn’t lived up to the hype of being named a preseason All-SEC first team defensive end. Barnett has just one sack through four games after recording a freshman school record of 10 sacks in 2014. But the defensive end didn’t record his first sack until the fifth game of the 2014 season. Still, Arkansas leads the SEC with just two sacks allowed in 2015, so Barnett will have his hands full in the trenches.
Prediction: Tennessee 17, Arkansas 13
This may be an ugly game. Both Arkansas and Tennessee love to run the football. With rain expected in Knoxville, there may not be a lot of passing. Still, the matchup features two of the SEC’s top running backs, as well as a pair of hungry teams. Tennessee should get the edge playing at home and will prove capable of holding an early lead. The Vols must now show that they can keep the advantage on their side in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee's thrown only nine passes in the fourth quarter of the first four games of the season. http://t.co/Oo60VfiIpI
— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownTFP) October 1, 2015