The No. 24 Tennessee Volunteers will square off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on a neutral site to start out the 2017 season. It will be the final game of the Week 1 slate, as the two will face off on Labor Day (Monday). Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Those looking to place a wager on this contest, oddsmakers currently have the Volunteers listed as a 3-point favorite with the total set at 56 points. Click here for more Week 1 odds and game previews.
Tennessee vs Georgia Tech Game Betting Preview & Vegas Odds
The Volunteers didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2016. Tennessee was a popular pick to win the SEC East and play in a big time bowl. They looked well on their way after a 5-0 start that included wins over Va Tech, Florida and Georgia. The proceeded to go just 3-4 the rest of the way, finishing a full 2-games back of Florida for the division title.
They did bounce back with 38-24 win over Nebraska in their bowl to end up at 9-4. Despite returning 14 starters (7 offense, 7 defense) expectations aren’t nearly as high in what will be Butch Jones’ 5th season on the job.
While the Volunteers disappointed, Georgia Tech surprised a lot of people with their 9-4 finish. That’s because they had gone just 3-9 with a 1-7 mark in the ACC the year before. The Yellow Jackets closed out the season strong, going 6-1 over their final 7. That included a 33-18 victory over Kentucky in their bowl.
Now in the 10th season under head coach Paul Johnson. Georgia Tech figures to be a factor in the ACC Coastal with 16 starters back (8 offense, 8 defense). The big concern is how they replace starting quarterback Justin Thomas.
Free NCAA Football Pick Against the Spread: Tennessee -3
I like the value here with the Volunteers, who I think are flying under the radar. It all stems from this team not playing up to the lofty expectations that were set for them last season. At the same time, I think the Yellow Jackets are bit overvalued after exceeding expectations in 2016.
Click here for more free picks against the spread and total from our expert handicappers on staff.
The triple-option with Georgia Tech can be difficult to prepare for on a normal week of rest. Tennessee has both spring and fall practice to work in some reps against the option. You also have to factor in that Georgia Tech lost a lot on offense.
Not only do they have replace Thomas at quarterback, they lose their top two rushers. On top of that, they are down to just 2 returning starters on the o-line after Chance Hall was lost for the year. I have to believe that they aren’t as sharp in 2017.
I know the Volunteers defense struggled last year, but they were decimated by injuries. They have 8 of their top 9 tacklers returning from last year. The two big losses were pass rushers Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen, but rushing the passer isn’t something you need to be good at when facing the Yellow Jackets.
Let’s also not overlook the fact that Tennessee has been consistently bringing in big time recruits under Jones. I’ll lean towards the more talented team on a neutral field with a small line just about every time.