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Tennessee Volunteers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Point Spread - Pick

Tennessee Volunteers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Monday, September 4, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: TENN -3/GT +3
Over/Under Total: 56

The Tennessee Volunteers come to Atlanta to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in week one Monday action. Both teams have been poking their head over the fence looking to one day get a piece of the pie. But it's not easy in the SEC and ACC, where some of the sport's heavyweights dwell. Still, both teams look to build on some good things that happened last season. Georgia Tech added 6 wins in 2016 to their previous season's total, winning 9 games and a bowl. Meanwhile, Tennessee was the heart-attack team of the country last season, which featured crazy comebacks and dramatic finishes to games. But after a 5-0 start, they ended up 9-4.

It's hard to not like what Paul Johnson has done with Georgia Tech with his triple option "flexbone" offense. He's the only coach working with this approach and his results last season speak volumes. They beat both Virginia Tech and North Carolina on the road and were very solid performers at the betting windows in 2016. With a lot of returning starters, the prognosis is pretty good. While not at their home-building, GA Tech will be in their hometown in Atlanta for this game.

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There were some key losses on offense. New starting QB Matthew Jordan showed flashes last season and truth be told, last year's bunch wasn't even one of Georgia Tech's better offenses in recent memory. A Georgia Tech quarterback won't need to air the ball out a tremendous amount, but will need to run the heck out of the ball. A key suspension to running back Dedrick Mills hurts. They will rely on Clinton Lynch, who can also catch balls. Some other returning talent or a youngster will need to chip in on an offense that needs a lot of fresh legs to carry out its run-heavy approach. Helping the backfield shine is an offensive line that returns a year older and more experienced.

A Georgia Tech defense that made a lot of strides in 2016 returns 8 starters and their effectiveness will go a long way toward determining the Yellow Jackets trajectory in 2017. The secondary gave up just 14 TDs last season through the air. They are led by the Austin twins, Lance and Lawrence. They lacked a good pass-rush in 2016 and need more in that area, despite losing their top sacks man from last year. Anree Saint-Amour is the best in that area and will be joined by KeShun Freeman and DT Kyle Cerge-Henderson on the front. There are a few voids in the middle, with Victor Alexander a good anchor piece. While rigid at times, more playmaking ability will be needed by this unit, not only in the pass-rush department, but in securing turnovers, as well.

Hopes really aren't as high this season for the Tennessee Volunteers as they were heading into 2016. There are questions on both sides of the ball, their offensive coordinator flew the coup, and QB Joshua Dobbs has departed after what only seemed like a decade with the team. Butch Jones will need to stretch his abilities to their full capacity to keep Tennessee on the same track they were on last season.

It seems en vogue this season for teams to wait until the last minute to decide QB battles. It seems counter-intuitive on some levels, unless it really is that hard determining a winner this long into the competition. Tennessee's QB battle comes down to Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guartanamo. Neither man will possess the tools Dobbs had last year, as the receiving game relies on Jauan Jennings, Tyler Bird, Marquez Calloway, and TE Ethan Wolf. After losing Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd, there are voids at RB, as well. Look for John Kelly, Carlin-Fils-Aime, and Ty Chandler to try to reproduce that production. The offensive line lost RT Chance Hall to injury, but still should be able to create a good front, with pieces like a good center in Jashon Robertson, top freshman Trey Smith, LT Drew Richmond, and Marcus Tatum.

While they did perform well in spots last season, particularly when Tennessee mounted comebacks, the Volunteers' defense was hardly tip-top in 2016. Six starters return and defensive coordinator Bob Shoop really needs to get this group to produce better. Their inability to stop the run last season should result in less 5 DB sets in 2017. Todd Kelly, Jr. and Nigel Warrior should make for a pair of good safeties, Justin Martin and Shaq Wiggins (questionable) at corner. The line really needs Jonathan Kongbo to ascend with Derek Barnett gone. The same goes for end Darrell Taylor. Inside are Kendall Vickers and Reginald Khalil McKenzie. At linebacker, Cortez McDowell, Daniel Bituli, and Quart'e Sapp will need to produce.

Of all the week one games we're previewing, this one might be the toughest of the lot. These teams haven't faced each other since the Reagan administration and with the numerous voids on both teams, one is hard-pressed to know what to expect. We just feel Georgia Tech looks a little more intact from last season and unless Tennessee shows they are a lot better against the run, the Yellow Jackets could win this one outright. We're taking the underdog.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets plus 3 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!

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