When: Saturday, September 17, 2016
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
Time: Noon, ET
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Vol Radio Network. Here is a list of local affiliates.
Odds: The Volunteers are presently 27-point favorites, via Odds Shark.
The Tennessee Volunteers (2-0) return to Neyland Stadium on Saturday to host the upset-minded Ohio Bobcats (0-1).
This is UT’s third straight game inside of the state of Tennessee after an opening week win over Appalachian State in Knoxville and last week’s triumph over Virginia Tech in the Battle at Bristol.
In just one week, the narrative around Vol football has changed drastically. After they escaped with an OT win over the Mountaineers in Week 1, pundits and fans were ready to declare this another overrated and overhyped squad. Then, of course, thanks in large part to five Hokies fumbles, the Vols squashed VaTech 45-24 in college football’s biggest spectacle of all time.
Last week they got off to a slow start, too. The Hokies dominated the Vols in all phases through first 15 minutes and led the game 14-0. However, UT forced a turnover at the beginning of the second quarter and never looked back.
So, what should we expect from the Vols this week? Quarterback Joshua Dobbs was better last week, especially in the running game. Dobbs rushed for 106 yards and a score. Through the air, though, Dobbs was just 10 of 19 for 91 yards. He did pass for three touchdowns.
The Ohio Bobcats could present a challenge to the Volunteers this week. No, you shouldn’t expect them to win, but Ohio is a well-coached squad that stops the run and possesses a prolific rushing offense. That type of combination can be dangerous.
Last week they picked up their first win of the 2016 season: A 37-21 victory at Kansas. The Bobcats racked up 329 rushing yards and held the ball for over 43 minutes. The Vols showed some susceptibility on the ground in each of the first two weeks, allowing an average of 185 rushing yards per game.
Butch said he has a tremendous amount of respect for Ohio. Mentions the Bobcats held Kansas to 26 rushing yards.— Paul Fortenberry (@Volquest_Paul) September 12, 2016
Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs: As Dobbs goes, so do the Vols. Tennessee can beat Ohio without a standout performance from Dobbs, but as the SEC schedule approaches, head coach Butch Jones needs to see if his senior quarterback can win games with his arm. Ohio can be beaten through the air, and with UT’s talent and size at wide receiver, Dobbs should have a big game on Saturday.
Tennessee LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin: The senior linebacker finished with 13 tackles last week in the win over Virginia Tech. Reeves-Maybin was especially active when the Hokies tried to run the zone-read or option and that’s why he’s such a key this week against Ohio. The Bobcats will keep him busy, and expect Reeves-Maybin to be up for the challenge.
Ohio QB Greg Windham: Ohio’s starting quarterback is off to a fast start in 2016. He’s averaging 280 passing yards per game, while also rushing for 183 yards through two weeks. Windham is the key to the game for Ohio. If he has a big game on offense and doesn’t turn the ball over, the Bobcats could make this one interesting thanks to the reigning MAC Player of the Week in the East Division.
So, what happens?
Believe it or not, Ohio has never beaten a ranked team. For what it’s worth, UT is ranked No. 15. The Bobcats have some talent, specifically on offense, to make this a game. However, can Ohio’s defensive line stand up to UT’s offensive line? That’s doubtful, especially for 60 minutes.
Tennessee has shown it’s the type of team to let less-talented teams hang around. That could happen again on Saturday in Knoxville.
Ohio will be competitive in the first half, but the Vols will blow it open in the second quarter and win this one convincingly.
Prediction: Tennessee 48, Ohio 17