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Vols fall to Pittsburgh after close game, 41-34

The Vols look to improve to 2-0 as a tough ACC foe visits Neyland Stadium.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football looks to improve to 2-0 as Pittsburgh visits Neyland Stadium this Saturday.

It's the first Power 5 non-conference game the Vols have hosted since 2015 when they played Oklahoma. 

It will also be the Johnny Majors Classic, as the legendary head coach was at the helm at both Tennessee and Pittsburgh. He started with the Panthers and won a title with them in 1976. The coach then came to be with the Vols, where he'd end up claiming three SEC titles before returning to Pittsburgh for a second coaching stint.

Tennessee is well removed from those times, looking to build a new identity and get back to a winning culture. This test against Pittsburgh will show where the Vols stand right now.

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TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

The Vols won their season opener against Bowling Green 38-6 to open up the Josh Heupel era in Knoxville.

Tennessee was best in their rushing attack. Running backs Tyon Evans and Jabari Small ran for a combined 237 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first time since 2016 that the Vols had multiple 100-plus yard rushers in a game.

 Quarterback Joe Milton also had two rushing touchdowns.

However, it looks like Evans might be out this week. Head coach Josh Heupel wouldn't comment on his status on Thursday.

Milton will need to be a better passer coming into this one. He was just 1 of 8 in the second half against Bowling Green with the one completion being a 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cedric Tillman. He finished 11 of 23 with 139 passing yards and that touchdown.

The Vols defense looks to hold Pittsburgh in check

Defensive coordinator Tim Banks held the same position at Penn State before coming to the Vols. in his last three meetings against Pitt while there, his Nittany Lions' defenses held the Panthers to 14, 6 and 10 points respectively. Will he be able to replicate that success at Tennessee?

PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

Pitt won their season opener against UMass 51-7. Starting quarterback, and fifth-year senior, Kenny Pickett threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Nine different players got rushing attempts and the team combined for 223 yards.

The defense shined for the Panthers, albeit against a not very good team. They only allowed 167 passing yards and 42 rushing yards. The Panthers are coming off a season where they allowed the third least rushing yards in the nation.

Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi and his teams have had recent success against Heupel when he was at UCF. The Panthers won in both 2018 and 2019 against the current Vols head coach.

GAME INFORMATION

Tennessee and Pittsburgh will play at noon on Saturday inside Neyland Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.