College Football Pick
The real Games begin on the second weekend for these two teams with both having bigger expectations this season. Of course, Tennessee has had bigger expectations for the past few seasons, but that hasn’t resulted in much. As for the perennial mediocre Virginia Tech, they bring in a new head coach for the first time in a long time with Justin Fuente from Memphis.
Playing at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, the Volunteers are a -10.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
That line is high mainly because the Vols are better on both sides of the ball. Starting with the offense, Joshua Dobbs is in his senior year, after seeing plenty of time under center since his freshman campaign. While his numbers have never jumped off the page, he turned into a consistent threat in the second half of 2015, leading to six-straight wins. His mobility (671 rushing yards) often showed up, but his arm also improved late in the year. Now, with the tools around him, Dobbs needs to put in his best season yet.
Those tools include receivers Josh Smith and Josh Malone, as well as one of the best one-two running back duos in the Conference with Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. Combine those two with Dobbs, and this ground Game won’t be stopped all too often.
And that’s exactly where Virginia Tech has to show up defensively after being one of the worst ACC teams against the run last season. The problem for the Hokies is that while they are deep in the front seven, they also bring in some new starters. After going against Liberty in the first Game, this one is going to be completely different against the offensive line of Tennessee.
The other side of the ball is a little different with new coordinator Bob Shoop in charge for the Volunteers. However, they return starters at every level from a defense that gave up 20 points per Game. Sure, they gave up more than 20 points eight times last year, but were never fully beaten down. And Virginia Tech doesn’t seem like a team that can drop 30 points against a good defense.
Yes, the new Hokies offense looks a lot different under Fuente, but this is going to be a much tougher Game than in the opener for quarterback Jerod Evans and company. Evans won the starting job at the end of August and he comes from the junior college ranks, rated as the No. 1 dual-threat QB. Fuente believes Evans has what it takes to match what Memphis did last season with the spread and that would be good news for Hokies fans.
Virginia Tech’s offense hasn’t been a pleasant sight for a while and with the talent around, they could become one of the better offenses in the ACC. But that starts with scoring against a team like Tennessee. The tools are there with running back Travon McMillian only a sophomore and a stocked receiving corps of Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips and tight end Bucky Hodges. If Evans can figure things out quickly, even in this Game, VT will be a threat in the ACC.
Tennessee is ranked in the top 10, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot at this point. If Evans is the real deal at quarterback, the Hokies could easily stay in this Game. Then again, if Dobbs and the Vols don’t have any early-season rust, Tennessee could pOur the points on early.
Our Pick – This should be a great year for the Vols. They were knocking on the door a year ago and with a loaded roster for 2016, they should kick in that door this year. Virginia Tech should stumble a few times this year with the departure Frank Beamer and this huge spot in Game two would be a likely spot to do just that.
However, Our sticking point for this Game would be -10. At this writing the Game is -10.5 everywhere. So, monitor the board and watch the line on this one. We’ll side with Tennessee at -10 or better.