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Tennessee

vs.

Georgia Tech

College Football Pick

9/4/17

To close off the official first week of the college football season, it’s the matchup everyone is waiting for, Tennessee against Georgia Tech at the newly opened Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Georgia. With both teams welcoming in new quarterbacks, the Volunteers are small -3 point favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Coming into each season, these teams seem to always have the opposite expectations. Tennessee is usually thought to be one of the best in the SEC, while Georgia Tech is never given any respect even when it deserves it.

Per usual, the Volunteers have loads of talent, no matter how much they lost the previous season. The issue remains finding the new starting quarterback with Joshua Dobbs gone. Quinten Dormady is the likely winner of the competition, but nothing was decided a week before the game with redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano also in the discussion. Either way, it’s going to be a new guy with new options around him. John Kelly is the starting running back from the onset, while Jauan Jennings leads at wide out. To win this game, the Vols need to rely an offensive line that has a combined 111 starts between them with three senior starters up the middle. If they can win the battle in the trenches, that will be enough to overpower Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets struggled a bit defensively against better teams last year, although Tennessee probably can’t be considered one of the better offenses. Tech returns seven starters, but only one returns on the line. If they can’t stop Tennessee on the ground, that could decide the game.

But the same could also be said for the other side of the field. Justin Thomas may be gone, but the triple-option is still the triple-option, meaning anyone with knowledge of it can run it fine in this system. All signs point to Matthew Jordan being the starter, although head coach Paul Johnson hasn’t come out and admitted that with TaQuon Marshall also in consideration. Guys like Dedrick Mills (771 yards), Clinton Lynch and Qua Searcy return in the backfield while Ricky Jeune (427 yards) stands out at wide receiver on the rare times this team throws the ball. But the biggest question may be on the line where three expected starters are sophomores. If that’s any kind of issue, it will show up against the bulk of Tennessee.

The Volunteers also return seven defensive starters, although are still dealing with loads of injuries, which was the case last season. This team opened 5-0 last year, but also had to squeak out a win against Appalachian State in the opener. The biggest thing when playing Georgia Tech is to win the battle at the line of scrimmage and that’s exactly what Tennessee can do. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially when playing against the triple-option.

If the Vols have any trouble at all moving the ball with a new quarterback, the Yellow Jackets will be there in to steal a win. And even if the Vols score just fine, that doesn’t mean this Tennessee defense is a guarantee to contain anything Georgia Tech does. New quarterback or not, the triple-option can work no matter the situation.

Our Pick - If this game were played a year ago, our model would have said flip a coin for your winner. Actually, it had Georgia Tech by a nose. Considering both squads start new QB's yet return healthy numbers elsewhere, we'd have to still consider this one a  coin flip. With that in mind, we'll take any points available. Georgia Tech +3

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