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BYU Cougars vs. Tennessee Volunteers Point Spread - Pick

BYU Cougars (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date/Time: Saturday, September 7, 2019 at PM EST
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: BYU +3.5/TENN -3.5
Over/Under Total: 51

The BYU Cougars come into Knoxville for a week two battle on Saturday with the Tennessee Volunteers in the first-ever meeting between these two schools. Both teams face a crucial week two that could play a big role into how their season goes after falling short in week one. Neither team covered the spread. For BYU, it was more-excusable, losing to a good Utah team in a matchup where success has been elusive for the Cougars. Tennessee, however, fell short at home to the Georgia State Panthers, a Sun Belt team that won twice last season, once against Kennesaw State. They melted late and lost by eight in demoralizing fashion. Which team can right the ship this week?

Under second-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt, the Volunteers are looking bad. Granted, there is a way you can spin it and just chalk it up to a bad game. A really poor performance in the middle of the season is easier to mask, where it can sometimes take on an inflated level of importance when it's the season debut. Still, this was a season where a struggling school was looking to start to turn things around. To blow a lead late and give up a loss like that at home doesn't speak well of the program. And the fans seemed listless. It just was an overall bad look for the Volunteers.

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano put up over 300 yards, but two last quarter turnovers were a key catalyst for the Georgia State comeback. He needs to have a better nose for victory and week one wasn't a good reflection. Their key asset in this game is their talent on offense. They got a good showing from running back Ty Chandler, with receiver Jauan Williams going over 100 yards with a TD. Marquez Callaway is another receiver who should thrive in this offense and he caught a TD on Saturday, as well.

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One of Tennessee's big issues is that they're going to be dominated along both lines of scrimmage this season when playing better opposition. Against Georgia State, you saw an SEC offensive and defensive line muscled around at times. Now, BYU has a lot of bulk. Even as their defensive line is working in some new personnel, whatever they bring to the table should surpass what Tennessee saw last week and that appears to be another problem-area for the Volunteers.

Still, BYU looked pretty flat against Utah, albeit in a far more-excusable defeat. They look to perform a little closer to their peak this week. And it isn't an easy matchup. There is always something to be said for playing outside of your wheelhouse, which would certainly apply to BYU playing at an SEC stadium. They look for better on defense this week after giving up a big running day to Zack Moss and Utah. The front was anticipated to be better in 2019, with youngsters supposedly coming along this season. But Utah didn't see a ton of resistance for long stretches of the game. All four starters from last season's secondary return and BYU looks to tame Guarantamo in this matchup. They looked fairly-rigid in holding Utah to just over 100 yards aerially last week.

After showing good signs in his freshman season where injuries forced him to play, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is supposed to have become a big factor this season. Against a good Utah "D," that wasn't quite the case with no TDs and two picks. A pretty good offensive line that is relatively intact should help Wilson come around to speed, as will all the top receivers from last season. One would also like to see more urgency and risk-taking at times in the offensive play-calling. If you were betting on BYU last week, there wasn't much to like about what you saw and some spotty strategy on the offensive side of the ball was a big part of it.

Still, Tennessee has a lot of upside on offense. They have a quarterback who can air it out in Guarantano. Tennessee also possesses a deep crew of receivers and while they will be tested with BYU's secondary, they have a lot of depth. The Volunteers are still looking for a standout back, featuring a cabaret approach and on Saturday, Chandler worked with Tim Jordan and Eric Gray to show some diversity on the ground. Against a BYU defensive second-level that might not be up-to-snuff, that's an area where they can potentially thrive. But that line...

I would expect to see a high-effort performance from both teams, making it a game that could be a little easier to handicap. The urgency should be there for both teams. Tennessee can ill afford to open the season with two duds at home. They have to show up and perform or they'll already be demoralized before week three and that's going to be tough. But hopes were high for BYU and they need to deliver in this spot too. Two flat showings to open the season would also be tough on them and their season. As an Independent, they can't lose these games and bank on the conference schedule to rebound.

With a win over Wisconsin on the road last season, this is a Cougars team that can win away from home against major-conference teams. And the Badgers had a lot more going for them than this Volunteers team this season. The Cougars looked rough last week in a non-competitive loss, but I see them thriving on the line-of-scrimmage and withstanding some big plays from Tennessee. Getting points, I like the Cougars this week on the road.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the BYU Cougars plus 3.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on games at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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