Some losses are harder to recover from, of course, and Tennessee will face that scenario to the extreme Saturday when it hosts Massachusetts in a non-league affair. The Volunteers suffered one of the most crushing defeats in school history last weekend as Florida scored on a Hail Mary at the buzzer to win, 26-20.
The Volunteers battled back from a 10-point second-half deficit to tie the game on a field goal with under a minute remaining before the Gators connected on the 63-yard miracle at the final horn. “We want guys to be frustrated that we lost (because) it shows an investment,” defensive tackle Kendal Vickers said. “They’ve been showing that throughout the year, but we are a mature enough team to look towards the next week. We got UMass coming up, so we have to look towards them. We got to play well on Saturday.” Tennessee likely will focus its offensive game plan around junior tailback John Kelly, who has 349 yards and five touchdowns through three games. Kelly, who also has a team-high 16 catches, enters the weekend ranked fourth in the nation in yards from scrimmage.
TV: Noon, SEC Network. LINE: Tennessee -27
ABOUT MASSACHUSETTS (0-4): The Minutemen dropped a competitive 29-21 decision at Temple last week despite outgaining the Owls, 458-387. Andrew Ford threw two touchdowns during his 377-yard effort and is averaging just over 300 yards per contest with only one interception on the season. Marquis Young has four rushing TDs and 225 yards on the ground - by far the most on the team - but he is averaging 3.8 yards per carry on the year.
ABOUT TENNESSEE (2-1): While Kelly is the star offensively for the Volunteers, he likely will need additional support from the Tennessee passing attack if the team is going to be successful in 2017. Quinten Dormady threw three interceptions against Florida and has completed under 55 percent of his passes in two of the first three games, plus he has not added much to the Tennessee ground attack. Another issue for the Volunteers is the kicking game, as two kickers combined to miss three kicks in last week’s heart-breaking loss.
1. This is the first ever meeting between the schools.
2. Tennessee LB Cortez McDowell (wrist), who had 24 tackles in the first three games, will miss the rest of the season.
3. Eleven different Volunteers have caught a 10-yard pass (or longer) this season.
PREDICTION: Tennessee 39, Massachusetts 17