Week 1 College Football Preview for Utah State vs. Tennessee

Jeff Grant

Thursday, July 24, 2014 3:31 PM GMT

Thursday, Jul. 24, 2014 3:31 PM GMT

Chuckie Keeton figures to be the most dynamic player on the field at Neyland Stadium next month, which makes the Utah State Aggies a dangerous underdog against the Tennessee Volunteers.

Continuing to build
Under the new direction of second-year head coach Matt Wells, Utah State posted a 9-5 straight-up record and picked up a 21-14 win over Northern Illinois as two-point favorites in the Poinsettia Bowl last season.

The Aggies will have to replace 22 seniors who graduated as the winningest class in school history with 31 victories, but they do welcome back senior dual-threat quarterback Chuckie Keeton and four All-Mountain West Conference players return on defense.

Keeton is the most important piece of the puzzle when making your Week 1 college football predictions, considering he missed the team’s final eight games in 2013—after earning first-team all-conference honors during his sophomore campaign.

 

Brick by brick
Tennessee is also being directed by a second-year head coach, as Butch Jones has endorsed a brick-by-brick motto in Knoxville, which could make them a sleeper in the futures odds to win the Southeastern Conference.

The Volunteers may need some time to put things together in the early going, but senior Justin Worley is expected to start under center, as he looks to improve on his numbers of completing 55.6 percent of his passes for 1,239 yards and 10 touchdowns.

With just five returning starters on each side of the ball, the program will have a hard time controlling the line of scrimmage at times, especially on the offensive end with the group going from 123 starts to six.

 

Keeping things close
Despite the fact that the team has dropped 16 consecutive road openers, Utah State deserves to be respected when looking over the Week 1 NCAA football odds, as their last four setbacks in that situation have come by seven or fewer points.

The Aggies won’t be bothered by a crowd of 100,000-plus fans in this matchup, as they’ve won 25 of their last 33 overall games, which includes producing a winning record on the road the last two seasons.

 

Starting off strong
The Volunteers have won their last 19 home openers, but it’s important to point out that they’ve played the likes of Austin Peay, Montana, UT Martin and Western Kentucky in four of the last five years in that situation.

Tennessee will need to feature its running game in the early going, with Joshua Dobbs and Marlin Lane both averaging over five years per carry a season ago.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Aggies as one of their college football picks, as they’ve gone 2-8 ATS as home favorites since the start of the 2012 campaign.
Pick:  Utah State Aggies +7

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":293749, "sportsbooksIds":[43], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

comment here