This may very well be the game that defines Tennessee's season.
Is 2018 simply a rebuilding year? Can Tennessee make a noteworthy bowl game? Can the Vols finish with a winning record?
This game should answer those questions, and a whole lot more on Vol fans' minds, when UT kicks off against South Carolina in Columbia (7:30 p.m., SEC Network).
Speaking of questions, it's never too early to submit yours to our live Twitter feed using #ExtraPointShow. We may include yours on The Extra Point at 10 a.m. Sunday, when Rick, Brent Hubbs, Caleb, and Luke talk all things Tennessee football.
I love this: #Vols Jarrett Guarantano (@BroadwayJay2) has the number 73 written on his eye black in support of his teammate Trey Smith (@smithtrey98 ), who's fighting blood clots in his lungs . That's what teammates do. pic.twitter.com/XGYTNFpWz6— Luke Slabaugh (@LukeSlabaugh) October 28, 2018
Follow along for live updates:
FINAL: Vols 24, South Carolina 27
4Q/1:01 Jarrett Guarantano is sacked and appears to have fumbled the ball. That should be the game, unless Tennessee can hold them with their three remaining timeouts.
4Q/5:52 Field goal attempt by Parker White for 25 yards is good.
SC 27, Vols 24
4Q/9:47 Vols turn it over on downs at the SC 35-yard line. Guarantano's pass batted on 4th and 7.
4Q/14:40 JG with a checkdown/shovel pass to Tim Jordan for 10+ yards. Beautiful.
3Q/:05: Vols 24, South Carolina 24
We've got some weird stuff to talk about. After a 70+ yard pass play put SC at the goal line, Tennessee stopped them a couple times.
On one hand-off, it appeared the Gamecocks fumbled the football near the goal line, with Tennessee's Daniel Bituli recovering it. However, the referees called the play dead and marked South Carolina at the one. They would go on to score and tie the game.
3Q/2:33 Marquez Callaway is slapped with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that boots Tennessee 15 yards back. At 3rd and 27, Tennessee has to kick the field goal from 45 yards out.
Vols 24, South Carolina 16.
3Q/6:20 JG to Jauan Jennings for 10 and another first down!
3Q/6:55 Vols convert a third and short on a Tim Jordan run.That's essential.
3Q/8:05 Vols 21, South Carolina 16. Vols stopped the Gamecock's first attempt at the goal line. But it's been a very efficient drive for South Carolina. Tennessee will have to do some sort of damage when they get the ball back.
3Q/10:02 - Vols 21, South Carolina 9 - Welcome back, Carlin Fils-Aime! He rushes 14 yards to put the Vols up two scores.
HALF: Vols 14, South Carolina 9 The Vols get the ball to start the second half.
2Q/:49 Vols 14, South Carolina 9 after the touchdown pass from Bentley to Deebo Samuel.
Shy Tuttle blocked the ensuing PAT, though.
2Q/2:11 JG to Jauan Jennings for a touchdown! 14-3.
Jennings slapped with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty afterwards for taunting. On further review, it appears he may have accidentally stumbled and given up the football in the celebration.
2Q/4:38 Marquez Callaway with a clutch catch on 3rd and 11.
2Q/7:47 You've got to admire the grit of Guarantano. On 3rd and 10, he scrambles to pick up 11. Ty Chandler picks up 12 on the ground on the next play. Vols at about midfield.
2Q/10:48 - Kyle Phillips and Alexis Johnson combine to sack South Carolina's Jake Bentley and force a third down stop.
END 1Q: Vols 7, South Carolina 3
UPDATE: 1Q/:37 South Carolina forced to a kick a field goal from 18 yards out. 7-3, Vols lead.
UPDATE 1Q/1:47 South Carolina's Rico Dowdle brings it to the red zone for a first down.
UPDATE 1Q:/3:18 - South Carolina running the ball effectively into Tennessee territory.
UPDATE 1Q/4:53 - TOUCHDOWN, TENNESSEE! Guarantano passes to Eli Wolf from five yards out. Vols LEAD 7-0!
UPDATE 1Q/5:50 - Carlin Fils-Aime sighting! The junior just moved back to running back to replace the void left by Banks. Fils-Aime was previously working at defensive back.
UPDATE 1Q/9:35 - INTERCEPTION, Shy Tuttle! The Vols defense continues to make strides, stopping South Carolina's drive. 0-0.
Alontae Taylor also looking very good on pass coverage.
UPDATE 7:33 p.m. : Coach Pruitt says on the pregame show that offensive lineman Trey Smith will be out for the rest of the year as he seeks treatment for blood clots.
Smith has responded by showing support for his teammates:
FIGHT VOLS FIGHT ��— Trey Smith (@smithtrey98) October 27, 2018
Pruitt also says Jarrett Guarantano and Keller Chryst will share playing time at quarterback tonight.
A few other story lines to follow heading into Saturday night:
1. What will the Vols do at left tackle without preseason All-American Trey Smith?
Nathan Niehaus filled in for Smith when he was hurt during the season opener against West Virginia. Chance Hall may also be an option at tackle. ( UPDATE: It's him. ) A darkhorse candidate for reps is K'Rojhn Calbert, who has some sweet dance moves:
2. How does Bryce Thompson fare against his (almost) former team?
Freshman defensive back Bryce Thompson was at one point a Gamecock commit. He and the school parted ways in the spring, and Tennessee landed him in late May.
Thompson earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors in his first career start against ETSU. He had an interception in that game.
Vols quarterback @BroadwayJay2 and his teammates arrive at Williams-Brice. JG expected to go tonight against the Gamecocks after getting knocked out of last week’s Alabama game @wvlt @LukeSlabaugh @wvltCaleb @MarybethJacoby pic.twitter.com/SdGraGgVa9— Rick Russo (@wvltrick) October 27, 2018
3. Is Jarrett Guarantano fully healthy? Or at least, healthy enough to be effective without showing signs of wear?
I just want to see him get rid of the ball quickly and stay out of trouble. South Carolina's going to bring their front seven at him when they get the chance.
4. Will we see Jeremy Banks at linebacker?
The freshman made the move from offense to defense this week. Coach Jeremy Pruitt said Banks requested the move at the end of the Georgia game, and he may even see some playing time tonight in Columbia.