Tennessee hasn't been able to defeat any ranked opponents in the SEC this season, but playing Troy is a different story.
If the Volunteers can't beat up on a Sun Belt squad, Derek Dooley will be in hotter water than he already is.
Troy possesses a dynamic pass offense, but the team struggles overall. Even so, Tennessee isn't opposed to falling asleep at the wheel. If that happens, the Trojans have enough firepower to make things more interesting than anticipated.
This isn't one of Saturday's marquee games, but let's preview it from top to bottom.
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
When: Saturday, Nov. 3, at 12 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Sports Net
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Line: Tennessee (-18.5), Over/Under 67.5, according to covers.com
Injury Report for Troy (according to USA Today)
LB Dimitri Miles, Undisclosed; Probable
DB Shaw Beverly, Suspension; Probable
DB Bryan Willis, Foot; Questionable
DT Shername TeArt, Shoulder; Questionable
OL Christopher Hawkins, Leg; Out for Season
OL Zach Johnson, Concussion; Out for Season
RB Chris Anderson, Academics; Out for Season
Injury Report for Tennessee (according to USA Today)
OL Zach Fulton, Ankle; Questionable
RB Rajion Neal, Ankle; Questionable
DB Brian Randolph, Knee; Out for Season
PK George Bullock, Leg; Out for Season
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Neither one of these squads is going to be ranked this season, and their bowl status is up in the air, but that doesn't mean the game means nothing.
For Derek Dooley, every game is an audition for his job. Tennessee has played five ranked teams this year and lost to every single one of them. Fans are impatient, and beating up on weaker teams is completely necessary.
Troy isn't going to sniff the Top 25 either, but its standing in the Sun Belt can improve. With games against Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee remaining, the chance to ascend is there. A win over Tennessee would be a trademark victory no matter how you cut it.
Troy isn't necessarily expected to make a bowl game, but Tennessee must. If it doesn't, Dooley is gone. In fact, he might be either way.
What They're Saying
Tennessee, at 3-5, is having yet another disappointing season. Dooley is under fire, and Tyler Bray's draft stock has fallen. All in all, it's been a terrible experience, but the Volunteers still have a chance to become bowl-eligible.
Because the Volunteers didn't make a bowl last season, the seniors on the squad are hungry to finish on a high note. Senior wide receiver Zach Rogers spoke to chattanoogan.com about the idea of a bowl this season and missing one last year:
Last year was the last of that business. That was a bad taste in our mouth and still is so that is not going to happen again here. I think this group of seniors that we have right now is not letting that stuff fly this year. Last year we had some ups-and-downs and some people who maybe didn’t think we were going to do so well at the end of the season, but this year is a totally different mix-up.
I know we haven’t had the success that we want, but we are going to finish strong. We have four games left and a chance to go to a good bowl, so that is what is on our mind right now.
Who to Watch (Troy): Chip Reeves, WR
Troy has the 22nd-ranked passing offense in the nation, and Chip Reeves is no small part of that. The junior wideout has 42 catches for 660 yards and four touchdowns this season, averaging 15.7 yards per reception.
Eric Thomas is also a solid target for the Trojans, but Reeves is the lone vertical threat in the offense. He stretches the field, puts stress on the secondary and allows guys like Thomas to work underneath the defense.
Reeves can't win a game by himself, but he gives opponents something to think about. He's an underrated target who will test Tennessee's shaky defense.
Who to Watch (Tennessee): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR
Patterson is one of the best athletes in the entire nation, even though fellow receiver Justin Hunter receives more national attention.
He has 27 catches for 366 yards and three touchdowns, but he doesn't stop there. The dynamic playmaker also has 430 kick-return yards and 229 rushing yards. Just get him the ball and he will do the rest.
The junior college transfer is frightening with the ball in his hands. He's 6'3'' and capable of running by anyone who takes one wrong step. Pairing him with Hunter's elite skills and Bray's big arm creates a dangerous trio that can hurt you at any time.
If you watch one player on Saturday, keep an eye on this kid.
Tennessee is going to win this game, and it shouldn't be close. The Volunteers struggle to focus at times, and Neal's potential absence could hurt, but the passing attack will be too much for Troy to handle in the long run.
Expect the Trojans to stay in it longer than expected but Tennessee will pull away in the second half.
Prediction: Tennessee 42, Troy 21