What Tennessee needs to avoid a flurry in South Carolina and keep college football playoff hopes alive

The Tennessee Volunteers are still in the college football playoff race. The nation’s No. 5 team has no inside track on the SEC Championship Game, but Kirk Herbstreit sees a path to the Final Four. Herbstreit followed sport Center Saturday morning to break it down ahead of Tennessee’s game against South Carolina.

“South Carolina, they’re back home,” Herbstreit said. “And every time they play Columbia, there’s always a chance. And remember, the last time Tennessee took to the streets — it was obviously against the country’s best team, Georgia — but just executing their offense wasn’t They weren’t there. They weren’t in sync. And when I spoke to her coaches last night, I think a lot of it had to do with adjusting to not just dealing with Georgia, but dealing with the crowd. And you remember when you looked great, you were at home. So I think they’re trying to accept the fact that they’re gone from Neyland. “Let’s show that we can maintain this offensive on the street.” So you know how it’s going to be.

“South Carolina, they just had a disappointing loss – by far the worst loss of the year. You know how college football is. There wasn’t much they could do in Gainesville last week. Now they come home and try to shock the world. And they have Clemson next week. So I think there’s a lot at stake for these two teams — not just Tennessee. It should be a great scene in Columbia tonight.

Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel knows his team are big favorites but was asked this week if his players might be overlooking this game.

“A play has nothing to do with the next play in a game,” Heupel said of GoVols247. “Last week has nothing to do with it. One of the things that I think was good about our players is their ability to reset and keep fighting no matter what. Last year has absolutely (nothing to do with it). They are two different football teams.”

Heupel also said he knew his team needed a quick start against the Gamecocks.

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“Gladly,” Heupel said. “That’s what we want to talk about in every football game. Throughout the off-season, we talk about starting fast and ending strong. But if not, I think it’s important for your kids to get back into the ball game and understand, that’s okay, man. It’s a 60 minute game. And no matter how it starts, what it looks like in the middle, you have to keep building steam. It’s one of the maxims, one of the things we talk about all the time. We would love to. But let’s play 60 (minutes) of football.”