Vols to Sting Yellow Jackets in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game

tennessee football

Jay Pryce

Friday, July 28, 2017 1:00 PM GMT

The Tennessee Volunteers and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets renew a once fierce rivalry in the season opener at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sept. 4 (8 p.m. ET). It’s their first clash in 30 years. Get your betting preview and pick for the Week 1 tussle here.

Tennessee Volunteers

After leading the SEC in returning starters last season, the Volunteers welcome back just 13 this year. No player will be missed more than former quarterback Joshua Dobbs. The Steelers' fourth-round pick led the Vols to back-to-back 9-4 seasons, amassing the most team wins (18) in a two-year span in a decade. Tennessee is one of three SEC teams with a new signal caller.

Who will be Tennessee’s new quarterback? Well, you can bet on that. Top-rated online sportsbook Bookmaker offers a proposition wager between either Quinten Dormandy (-160) or Jarrett Guarantano (+130) starting Week 1. Dormandy, the more accurate passer with playmaking abilities similar to Dobbs, should be the favorite. Nonetheless, do not expect the Vols to improve, if at all. Only two of the last 10 first-year starting quarterbacks at the school picked up more wins than the prior season.

A new quarterback isn’t the only concern for an offense that scored the most points and touchdowns in school history last year. The unit lost plenty of playmakers with 54 percent of its receiving yards and 72 percent of its rushing output departing. Two positive notes include new offensive coordinator Larry Scott. The former interim head coach at Miami (FL) brings more aggressiveness and versatility to a base offense he plans to retain. Last year’s porous offensive line, the team’s weakest link, is expected to improve with seven returning personnel totaling over 111 starts. The Vols are one of six FBS teams to roll out an O-Line combining for more than 100 starts.

The defense can only get better after allowing 28.8 points and almost 450 yards per game in 2016. Injuries plagued the unit with up to 10 starters missing at one point midway through the season. Expect Bob Shoop’s unit to be extra aggressive with a revenge-like mentality in 2017.

 

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

If any ACC team can pull off an upset over an SEC program, it’s the Yellow Jackets. Since head coach Paul Johnson took control in 2008, Georgia Tech’s nine wins over the conference ranks tied for second (Florida State) behind Clemson (11). When spotted points in the betting market, the Yellow Jackets four outright victories (4-7 SU, 6-5 ATS) tops all in this span.

Like the Vols, the biggest question for the Yellow Jackets is at the quarterback position. Johnson told the media the gig is Matthew Jordan’s to lose headed into camp. The redshirt junior played in eight games last season with one start vs. Virginia Tech. He rushed for 121 yards on 32 carries in that game and looks the part in the run-option attack. Otherwise, the team is chock-full of experience with eight returning starters on each side of the ball, second most in the ACC.

 

Final Analysis

The Yellow Jackets' run-option is a tough matchup for any team, but Tennessee will have all the time in the world to prep. Despite Dobbs’ departure, the Vols’ offense will move the ball at will against a defense that allowed 32.2 points per game in six as an underdog last season. Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is 16-0 SU and 10-6 ATS as the betting favorite against non-SEC opponents. His squad has covered the spread in all six games spotting two touchdowns or less, winning by double digits in each.

Free NCAAF Pick: Vols -3.5Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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