Two teams that are trying to have breakout campaigns will square off on Friday night in a contest that could set the tone for their upcoming seasons. Who should college football bettors pick when NC State host Tennessee?
The Tennessee Volunteers have a whopping 19 returning
starters, but head coach Derek Dooley enters his third season on the hot seat.
Unfortunately wins against Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Ole Miss don’t cut it in
the SEC and Rocky Top is expecting results – especially with so much
consistency in the program – or Dooley is gone.
Meanwhile, it’s a “prove it” type season for Tom O’Brien
and the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Quarterback Mike Glennon proved he was
the real deal last season and now he has to show he can lead the Wolfpack into
the upper echelons of the ACC.
This is an evenly matched contest with two good
quarterbacks and will provide plenty of entertainment value. It’s somewhat
challenging to handicap because we don’t know for sure which team has been
blowing optimistic offseason smoke in our face and which is ready for a
successful season. We’ll know more after Friday night.
Friday, August 31st
College Football Odds: Volunteers -3.5
The Volunteers can win because…
The SEC is better than the ACC. While the ACC would like to prove that they
can play with the big boys, the SEC has won six straight national
championships. Although Tennessee isn’t exactly an elite SEC team, they’d be
near the top of the totem pole in the weaker ACC.
The Vols have an excellent quarterback in Tyler Bray, who
just might be among the best in the nation. And even though the team booted
Da’Rick Rogers off the team, Justin Hunter is still an elite level receiver
that is going to be a nuisance for defensive backs all season long. The Vols
have one of the better receiving corps in the SEC.
On defense, both teams are so-so but the SEC’s speed
should shine through. N.C. State is breaking in a new group of receivers and
there’s no one proven. That will make the Vols like much easier.
While this is a neutral site game, Vols fans travel well
and will tilt the crowd in this favor. This could very well be a de facto home
game for them.
The Wolfpack can win because…
The Vols are a
one-dimensional offense: pass, pass and pass. The good thing for N.C. State is
that their secondary ranked sixth in the nation in turnover ratio last season –
including cornerback David Amerson’s record-setting 13 interceptions – and most
of the secondary returns intact. With Rogers suspended by Tennessee, Amerson
can shadow Hunter and really make life difficult for the Vols passing game.
Tennessee is switching to a 3-4 defense, so there should be a transition period
for them. They have been working hard all offseason but the Wolfpack have their
best offensive line in the Tom O’Brien era and quarterback Mike Glennon is very
confident after a 31-touchdown season last year. Sure, the SEC is known for
defense but nobody would mistake Tennessee with LSU or Alabama. The Vols
allowed an average of 34.2 points per game to ranked teams last season.
Outlook & NCAA Football Betting Prediction:
This is truly a great matchup to start the season. The
Vols strength is their passing game and their weakness is their ground attack.
But the Wolfpack’s strength on defense is their secondary and their weakness is
against the run.
Meanwhile, the Wolfpack offense and the Vols defense are
both trying to prove themselves as units on the rise.
In a tight contest, I’ll point to the dismissal of Rogers
as being a key factor. That changes the Vols from having what could have been
one of the best passing games in the country to just a pretty good unit. Unless
they can find a way to run the ball against N.C. State, they’ll have a tough
time moving the ball.
Beyond that, the momentum is clearly with the Wolfpack,
who won five of seven to end the year. The Vols lost six of eight to end their
2011 campaign and I’m having a tough time believing that Dooley is a man that
can take them to the next level.
SEC normally trumps ACC, but for the purpose of making our football picks in this game, I see value with the
Picks: Wolfpack +3.5