Back in 2018 Tennessee went on the road and upset Auburn in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season as the Volunteers’ coach and he appeared to have the UT program heading in the right direction. Now the teams are meeting again at Jordan-Hare Stadium a few years earlier than originally expected with Pruitt in desperate need of a jolt to his third season. No. 23 Auburn, on the other hand, enters this game looking for a tune-up victory after three weeks off as it prepares for arch-rival Alabama next week.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he expects a few players to be out due to COVID-19 contact tracing. But the Tigers (4-2) should be healthy for the most part ofter going three weeks between games and putting the worst of a coronavirus outbreak behind them. Tennessee (2-4) should be healthy, too, after its game against Texas A&M was canceled last week due to the Aggies’ issues with COVID-19.
Will the Tigers keep rolling after multiple weeks off or will the Vols bounce back from some tough losses of their own? Let’s take a closer look at the matchups and storylines to follow in this one before making some expert picks both straight up and against the spread.
Auburn: Auburn last played on Oct. 31, when it blew out rival LSU 48-11. The Tigers had a scheduled bye the following week and then had last week’s game with Mississippi State postponed due to COVID-19 issues. Now after three weeks between games, Auburn will look to pick up where it left off as Malzahn coaches his 100th game with the program. Though he’s 66-33 during his eight-year tenure, Malzahn always seems to be just one loss away from the hot seat. With tough games against Alabama and Texas A&M up next, he can’t afford a slip up here against a struggling Tennessee team. Thankfully for Malzahn, his sophomore quarterback Bo Nix has played well in his last two games since throwing three interceptions in a loss to South Carolina on Oct. 17.
Tennessee: Auburn fans may have their frustrations with Nix sometimes, but Tennessee fans would gladly trade redshirt senior Jarrett Guarantano for a quarterback of Nix’s caliber. Guarantano has received much of the blame for the Volunteers’ offensive struggles during the team’s four-game losing streak. But a trio of backups have shown little to instill doubt in Guarantano’s handle on the job. Still, Pruitt’s reluctance to start another player at the position has put the third-year coach in the firing line as fans spew their frustration about the team’s drop-off following a 2-0 start. Assuming Gurarantano starts again Saturday, he will hope to replicate the 328-yard, two-touchdown performance he posted in the 2018 upset win at Auburn.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 21 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium — Auburn, Alabama
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Auburn vs. Tennessee prediction, picks
There is little evidence to suggest that Tennessee’s inept offense is about to turn a corner, especially against a capable Auburn defense. So can Auburn score enough to cover this spread? Considering the Tigers put up 48 against LSU their last time out, it’s fair to assume they can put two touchdowns of difference between themselves and the Volunteers. Pick: Auburn (-10.5)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 12? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,900 in profit over the past four-plus seasons — and find out.