Chuckie Keeton's Heisman campaign begins on the SEC Network. Can the Vols beat the Aggies and keep their bowl chances alive?
If you want a preview of how tonight's announcers are likely to handle this game, even with it being on the SEC Network, it will likely go something like this: Chuckie Keeton. Chuckie Keeton. Chuckie Keeton. Chuckie. Keeton. Chuckie Keeton.
At least in the early going. To an extent, Keeton is a bit unusual and at least one reason to tune into this game; it's not often that there is not-unserious discussion about a Utah State player being in the running for the Heisman. That might be just a bit much to pin on a Mountain West player before the season starts, but Keeton and Co. know one thing: Beating Tennessee is critical to any chances he takes home the trophy. The Vols are one of two Power 5 teams on the schedule, and the only one on the road -- Wake Forest travels to Logan -- and Keeton's critics will hang a loss over his head once the campaigning truly begins.
And Keeton is a dangerous player for a season opener. He's had injury issues, but in his only full season in 2012, Keeton completed 275 of 407 for 3,373 yards, 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Keeton also ran for 619 yards and eight touchdowns that year on 129 carries. He threw 18 touchdowns and just two picks in 196 attempts last year and averaged more than 230 passing yards a game.
One advantage for Tennessee in this game, or at least something that could overcome one of the Vols' main disadvantages this year, is that Utah State returns just one starter on the offensive line and one starter on the defensive line. Tennessee's biggest challenge this year is going to be in the trenches, and it looks like that might be a sizable issue for Utah State as well.
The Volunteers appear to still be favorites on the betting lines, but the factors are all there for an upset. If Tennessee's not careful, they're going to end up dealing a blow to their own bowl hopes -- and giving a boost to Keeton's chances for the Heisman.
Game Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Brandon's prediction: Tennessee 24, Utah State 21