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FEARLESS PREDICTION: Can Vols defeat nemesis Will Muschamp?

The year was 2014. It was a beautiful October afternoon and Tennessee was ready to end its nine game losing streak to Florida. They were certainly the better team on this day, but as has happened quite often over the past couple of decades, the Gators found a way to win.

Florida’s 10-9 triumph left most of the 100,000-plus at Neyland Stadium in a state of shock and sadness.

Things got worse when Florida head coach Will Muschamp was interviewed by Maria Taylor on the SEC Network broadcast right after the game.

Muschamp become Public Enemy No. 1 in Knoxville when he said, “It’s great to see all these people out here getting disappointed. I love it.”

The year was 2016. It was a cold October evening and Tennessee was ready to bounce back from losses to Texas A&M and Alabama. They had a bye week and entered the South Carolina game well rested (but without an injured Alvin Kamara).

On that night in Columbia, a freshman quarterback named Jake Bentley (who should have still been playing as a senior in high school) led the Gamecocks to an upset 24-21 victory. The loss cost the Vols the SEC East title (although a loss weeks later at Vanderbilt would have also done the trick). It was the beginning of the end of the Butch Jones era at Tennessee.

The head coach of South Carolina that night? Will Muschamp.

Tennessee has never beaten a Will Muschamp coached team. He won all four meetings at Florida and currently stands at 2-0 against the Vols at South Carolina. It hasn’t mattered that the Vols more often than not have had more talent than the Muschamp led Gators/Gamecocks. He has Tennessee’s number.

This year neither team is an SEC contender. Instead, a victory is needed for each to have a better chance at simply becoming bowl eligible.

There are quarterback questions on both sides. At Tennessee, head coach Jeremy Pruitt said he expects Jarrett Guarantano to be ready to go on Saturday night. Guarantano missed most of the Alabama game after getting drilled in the ribs. Backup Keller Chryst looked decent in a relief appearance.

At South Carolina, Bentley has an SEC leading seven interceptions, and backup Michael Scarnecchia has a Missouri win on his resume from a few weeks ago. Should Bentley struggle early against the Vols don’t be surprised if Muschamp goes to Scarnecchia.

Defensively, both teams have shown the ability to get torched. They are very similar statistically, with the Gamecocks ranked 61st nationally in total defense, and the Vols 63rd.

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