The Tennessee Volunteers host the Georgia State Panthers in a Week 1 matchup from Knoxville. Kickoff is set for 3:30 PM EST on Saturday, August 31 at Neyland Stadium and the game will be televised on ESPNU.

Taking a look at the Week 1 college football odds, Georgia State opened as a massive 25.5-point road underdog earlier this week. That line has changed only slightly after early betting, as the Panthers are currently listed at +26. The total for the game is sitting at 57 points.

Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Tennessee vs Georgia State

Georgia State had a terrible year in 2018, going just 1-7 in Sun Belt conference play and 2-10 overall. Unfortunately, that put the Panthers in last place in the SEC East Division and was their worst performance over a full season since 2014. However, they are welcoming back the majority of their offensive starters, which should hopefully help stabilize things moving forward. QB Dan Ellington returns after passing for 2,119 yards and 12 touchdowns. Ellington is also a pretty big threat on the ground, as he rushed for 625 and added five rushing touchdowns. RB Tra Barnett is expected to continue seeing a lot of work out of the backfield after he averaged over 5 yards per carry and scored 7 touchdowns in 2018. The only real loss for Georgia State on offense is leading receiver Penny Hart, although it does appear there is still some decent depth at the position. Overall, the Panthers averaged 23.9 points per game on 378.4 total yards.

Things didn’t go much smoother on the defensive side of the ball for Georgia State last year, as they finished last in the Sun Belt in total defense. However, they are welcoming back seven starters which should hopefully help moving forward. As a whole, the defense surrendered an average of 37.4 points per game on 489.6 total yards.

Tennessee is slowly moving in the right direction after going 5-7 last year, an improvement on their 2017 record. However, the Volunteers only went 2-6 in SEC play, which left them in dead last in the SEC East. On the bright side, the offense is welcoming back many starters including QB Jarrett Guarantano who passed for 1,907 yards and 12 touchdowns. On the ground, the duo of Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan is also returning after combining for over 1,150 yards and 7 touchdowns. As a whole, the Vols offense averaged 22.8 points on 326.4 total yards per game.

The number of returning starters is also quite high on the defensive side of the ball, as the Volunteers are getting six out of their top eight tacklers back in 2019. Tennessee was fairly solid on defense last year, limiting opponents to 27.9 points per game on 378.1 yards of total offense.

NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Tennessee -26

Both of these teams have rosters that are filled with returning players at key positions. However, both Tennessee and Georgia State have a lot of work to do if they want to establish a permanent winning culture moving forward. There is no doubt that the Vols are a few steps ahead of the Panthers in the rebuilding process on both sides of the ball, which should definitely come into play here in Week 1. While both teams had similar points per game and total offense numbers in 2018, Tennessee had to play against much tougher competition in the SEC. Additionally, Georgia State gave up almost 40 points per game on defense despite playing in a watered down Sun Belt conference.

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It is also worth noting that the Panthers really struggled on the road in non-conference games in 2018, losing both games by a combined score of 101-29. Additionally, the Vols surrendered only six points in their three non-conference games last season. While this spread might initially seem a little bit bloated, I think that the Tennessee offense has enough key play-makers returning to help put this game out of reach early. Give me the Volunteers to cover at home!