It’s only early July, but don’t let that stop us football and betting nuts from getting prepared. Week 1 is only a couple of short months away. The schedule is set, and teams are starting training camp soon with an eye on their first opponent. College Football Picks 2016 has you covered for all the major matchups to kickoff the season, with one such game being the No. 10 Tennessee Volunteers hosting the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Below are the betting odds, a preview and prediction for the outcome of the game.
Game Day: Thur. Sept. 1, 2016
Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Knoxville, Tenn.
Betting: -23 TENN
It’s been a long road for Volunteer fans, as Tennessee has had its struggles during the past decade; since 2008, the Vols have had only three winning seasons, but 2015 was their best with a 9-4 finish. What has analysts excited about this group before a game has been played yet this year is that 17 starters on offense and defense are returning, including their quarterback.
In fact, they’re the favorites to win the SEC East, just ahead of the Georgia Bulldogs, and their FPI (football power index) rating is No. 5 overall heading into this season. Tennessee has the expectations and perhaps finally the coaching and talent to live up to it.
The big question surrounding their potential success is, can quarterback Joshua Dobbs build off of a shaky campaign? The athletic 6-foot-3, 207-pound senior has proven that he can move the chains with his legs, but his accuracy down the field has been an issue. If he can improve in that area with long receivers in Josh Malone and Preston Williams, then this Tennessee team could become a force and contend for the College Football Playoffs.
As for Appalachian State, they head into the season the favorites to win the Sun Belt Conference. It’s just the Mountaineers third season at the FBS level, and after an 11-2 campaign, they’re shooting for that first conference title. Obviously, a win against a Power 5 team, let alone a division favorite of a Power 5 team, would jumpstart their season in a big way. This team has shown in the past its pension for stepping up and not being afraid of bigger schools, but is can they pull it out in Week 1?
App State runs the ball — a lot — and with great efficiency. Their two stud running backs in Marcus Cox and Jalin Moore are being hyped for a major year from both of them.
Who knows? They could eclipse 1,000 yards each.
But it’ll take a true team effort to take down an experienced Volunteers squad.
Prediction: The Vols and Mountaineers boast two potentially explosive offenses. This game looks like a shootout if I’ve ever seen one. Sure, the Vols are a more highly-touted team, but don’t sleep on App State. What may hurt Tennessee the most is their lack of elite run defense, ranking 65th overall last season, allowing 4.2 yards per carry and over 150 yards per game. Considering eight starters are back on defense, including the entire front seven sans one lineman, don’t expect that to improve too much.
Ultimately, though, Tennessee is likely to win this game. However, expect them to fail covering such a large number like 23.
Final Score: Tennessee 37, Appalachian State 27
*Top 25 ranking is based upon ESPN’s early rankings, not an official AP poll.