Tennessee Volunteers (9-4) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-4)
|Date & Time||Sunday August 31, 1980, 3:35 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets +6 -- Over/Under: 63
Out at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Monday, September 4, the Tennessee Volunteers and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will be wrapping up the Week 1 college football activity.
Tennessee managed to go 9-4 last season, finishing 4-4 in the SEC. Despite a couple of tough losses later in the season to South Carolina and Vanderbilt, the Volunteers managed to end the season on a high note with a 38-24 Music City Bowl victory over Nebraska.
Head coach Butch Jones will be back on the Tennessee sidelines for his fifth season, and he’s got rookie OC Larry Scott and second-year DC Bob Shoop beside him. With QB Joshua Dobbs gone, signal-calling duties will fall to Quinten Dormady, who put up a 11-of-17 line for 148 yards last season for the Volunteers. Lead RB John Kelly will slot back in after 98 carries for 630 yards and five scores in 2016, while Josh Malone’s absence will be filled by Jauan Jennings, who managed 40 catches for 580 yards and seven scores for the Volunteers last year.
Over on the Georgia Tech side, they finished 9-4 in 2016, going 4-4 in ACC play. The Yellow Jackets earned a trip to the TaxSlayer Bowl against Kentucky, where they took a 33-18 victory. Georgia Tech had some big wins last season, but were also haunted by tough losses to Pittsburgh, Miami, Clemson and North Carolina during a 2-4 stretch.
This season, head coach Paul Johnson returns for his 10th season, and the Yellow Jackets also get the services of fifth-year DC Ted Roof. With Justin Thomas gone, Matthew Jordan will take over at QB for Georgia Tech, despite throwing just nine passes last year for one TD and one pick. RB Dedrick Mills was set to return as the big name in the Jackets’ running game following a 2016 where he notched 152 carries for 771 yards and 12 scores, but stunning news emerged in late August that Mills was dismissed from the team. Even with Mills gone, though, Georgia Tech has a solid duo of KirVonte Benson and freshman Jerry Howard in the backfield. WR-wise, Ricky Jeune and Brad Stewart will be the top names for the Yellow Jackets this year. The duo had 803 yards between them last season for GT, but got into the end zone just once.
The Volunteers are 6-0 ATS in their last six neutral-site games and the over is 4-0 in Tennessee’s last four versus the ACC. The over is also 4-0 in the Volunteers’ last four games overall and 8-0 in the Volunteers’ last eight neutral-site games.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four neutral-site games and 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall. Georgia Tech is also 4-0 ATS in their last four non-conference games and 5-1 ATS in their last six versus the SEC.
Though Tennessee retains some important names from the 2016 campaign, the absence of Dobbs can’t be overstated. A team that loses its top passer and top rusher all at once is certainly going to look different, and many people may not recognize the Volunteers during the early-going this season. As for the Yellow Jackets, the general thinking dictates that their game plan will consist of running, running and running some more. I think this may turn into a lower-scoring clock-control game, and I have to give that to the potentially more talented running game in Georgia Tech. That said, however, this should be a tight game and I think the play here is the under.