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Tennessee Volunteers vs. Oregon Ducks Preview: Sometimes You're the Bug

Tennessee might be headed in the right direction under Butch Jones. Against Oregon, that's not likely to matter very much


Tennessee Volunteers vs. Oregon Ducks, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

There is always a chance that Tennessee could pull the upset against Oregon in this game. The 125-13 margin of victory in games against Nicholls State and at Virginia could turn out to be mirages based on the opponents. Tennessee's combined 77-point MOV against Western Kentucky and Austin Peay could end up being more than they look like. Marcus Mariota could be mugged en route to the stadium.

But this largely looks like the kind of blowout that most of the national pundits and Vegas are predicting. It's perfectly consistent to say that Butch Jones looks to have his program on the right track and to say that the Vols are likely to get killed in this game. There are a lot of programs that are on the right track that would have little chance of disrupting Oregon's high-powered offense, which looks to be almost as deadly under Mark Helfrich as it proved to be under Chip Kelly. If not just as deadly.

And the strength of the Oregon offense appears to be pointed straight at the weakness of the Tennessee defense. Despite having big leads against overmatched opponents, Tennessee is 42nd in the nation against the run, allowing 125 yards per game -- solid, but not exceptional and not quite as good as the other portions of the defense which you would expect to face more stress in easy wins.

Oregon, meanwhile, has run for 425 yards -- a game. That per-game average would tie North Carolina State 40th in total rushing yardage amassed this season in the NCAA. Put another way, 85 teams have rushed for fewer yards in 2013 than the Ducks are averaging. (In fairness, some of those teams have played just one game.)

There's a small opening for Tennessee to make this a game early on -- but even so, I think that will dissipate relatively quickly. There might be a day when Tennessee will be the windshield on the road against an elite team, but this ain't that day.

Oregon 52, Tennessee 21