Appalachian State Mountaineers (11-2) at Tennessee Volunteers (9-4)
|Date & Time||Thursday September 1, 2016, 7:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Tennessee Volunteers -20.5 -- Over/Under: 59
The Tennessee Volunteers and the Appalachian State Mountaineers face off on Thursday Night as they open their 2016 college football seasons.
The expectations for the Tennessee Volunteers is sky high this season but the reality is they have yet to prove anything on the football field that shows that have what it takes to have a magical season. QB Joshua Dobbs is back for his senior season for the Vols and a lot hinges on his play as he has proved he can create plays with his legs but his passing is quite near the same level. Jalen Hurd leads the Tennessee running backs needing just 892 yards to become the Volunteers all-time leading rusher and Alvin Kamara is capable as well and both can catch out of the backfield. Josh Smith and Josh Malone are both back at receiver as Tennessee always seems to have big time talent there but it’s a question of Dobbs being able to get the ball to them on target. I was not impressed with the Tennessee defense last season but they return a ton so they will be experienced this year. The defensive line looks loaded as Derek Barnett and Cary Vereen are back but much of their best work has come in non-SEC games. Tennessee linebackers Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Darrin Kirkland are solid and cornerback Cameron Sutton could have gone to the NFL after last season. While there is such high hopes here are some real numbers to digest regarding the Volunteers defense: Tennessee was 9th in the SEC against the run and gave up over 150 yards per game on the ground. If Tennessee doesn’t sure up their run D, they are in for a long and disappointing season.
The Appalachian State Mountaineers look to be loaded on both sides of the football and while they are from the Sun Belt Conference, they should be a handful for all of their opponents and very entertaining to watch this season. Appalachian State led the Sun Belt in total offense last season as QB Taylor Lamb threw for 31 touchdowns a year ago. Mountaineers senior running back Marcus Cox is approaching superstar level rushing for 4,088 yards and 43 touchdowns in his first three seasons. The bulk of Appalachian State’s offensive line returns but none of their starting receivers so Shaedon Meadors and Jaquil Capel are among those who will be called upon to step it up. Defensively Appalachian State returns nine starters including John Law who led the team in tackles. Eric Boggs is also back at linebacker and while the Mountaineers will need to find a pass rusher, cornerback Latrell Gibbs is a ball hawk who had seven interceptions and two of those went for touchdowns just last season. The Sun Belt might be a cake walk for Appalachian State this season so early out of conference games like this one against Tennessee and in a few weeks at Miami are huge for them.
Tennessee is 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games, 5-2 against the spread in their last seven non-conference games, and 1-5 against the spread in their last six games. Appalachian State is 4-1 against the spread in their last five road games, 2-5 against the spread in their last seven non-conference games, and 1-5 against the spread in their last six games.
The total in this one is sky high but I see a ton of points going on the board so my free pick is on the over.