The OWR Staff Predicts Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech
After years of waiting, the Battle at Bristol is finally here.
This is our weekly feature where everyone here at Orange & White Report predicts the outcome of the Vols’ upcoming game.
According to Las Vegas, Tennessee is a 12 point favorite over the Hokies and the over/under is 54. Let’s get to it…
Will Warren (@wedwardwarren):
I feel the same way about this game that I did all offseason: this has a lot of potential to be ugly and not really fun to watch. Despite returning most 2015 starters, Tennessee appears to be figuring out their offense in the same way a dog tries to assimilate from a house to an apartment: lots of barking and very little order. Virginia Tech’s offense will be even worse, despite Jerod Evans and Isaiah Ford’s best efforts. Couple those feelings in with the very unusual sight lines for both quarterbacks — call it the NRG Effect — and I have yet to flinch from the 24–10 Tennessee score I decided on in March.
Virginia Tech 10
Celina Summers (@CelinaSummers):
The Battle at Bristol. The largest college football attendance in NCAA history. A border war between Virginia and Tennessee, set in a city that straddles the state line. Virginia Tech is in its first year under former Memphis coach Justin Fuente. Tennessee is in what most of the country and especially Vol Nation expects to be a breakout year for Coach Butch Jones. All the storylines are in place, but the Vols are coming off of a disappointing performance in their win over Appalachian State and Virginia Tech’s suspect offense took some time to get started against a hopelessly outmatched Liberty team. Some of the luster is gone from this game in the media’s eyes, but it’s still the only interesting gig in college football in week 2, so all eyes will be on the game to see if the Vols show. Never underestimate a pissed off Team 120. The defense got on track last week in the second half and turned downright stingy. The offense was stymied by a poor coaching playbook in which less then 20 unique plays were run. The odds of that happening this week are zilch. And while Virginia Tech will no doubt be back in the national picture in a year or two, this weekend, the glare of the spotlight will illuminate their weaknesses harshly. This won’t be the same Vol team you saw last week. Jalen Reeves-Maybin will make sure of that.
Virginia Tech 10
John Monroe (@MinisterofD):
As a life long resident of Bristol, I’ve got a little extra interest in this one. Some folks have an idea of how hot this “rivalry” burns among the fans, but unless you’ve spent some time here you have no idea. If I was asked to make this prediction a week a go, I would tell you Vols by a lot, and I mean, a lot. However with the way the UT’s offensive line looked in the season opener, my prediction has changed drastically. Sure, App State did some unconventional things, but the line was also constantly beat on 3 man rushes. Va Tech defensive mastermind Bud Foster is certainly no slouch. If they thought the App State schemes were new, then they’re in for a rude awakening on Saturday. Now that all the doom and gloom is out of the way, the Vols are much more athletic, and generally just better than Va Tech. This game is almost a reversed mirror image of the last time these 2 met, the 2009 Peach Bowl. This time it’s the Vols with a strong seasoned lineup, and Tech with a first year coach trying to recover from some down years. Look for Tennessee to come out fired up after a week of being beaten down by the pundits, and takes care of business.
Virginia Tech 14
Sam Hiatt (@shiattVTF):
Vol Nation should be at least a tad concerned about this one. Tennessee is a relatively big favorite again just like last week and absolutely can’t do what they did on Thursday. The Vols did everything that you can’t do playing against a big underdog. They didn’t establish the line of scrimmage early, the offense came out flat and big time players/team captains like Josh Dobbs and Cam Sutton made HUGE mental errors in the first half. But, Tennessee is once again more talented at just about every position and as long as they can play smart and composed, they’ll be fine. Another concern is the venue, Tennessee can’t let the big moment cause them to go away from the fundamentals. I expect them to establish the run game early and take some shots downfield on VT’s relatively young secondary. The Vols need to get up by 10 at halftime and let the defense do the rest.
Virginia Tech 14
Brett Botta (@BrettBotta):
While I am all Vol at heart, going to school and learning about journalism taught me to look at things objectively and try (even with orange glasses on) to see things for what they are worth and not what I may want. Tennessee needs to step it up in a big way and play to their potential. The Hokies are not world beaters by any means, but they have some very good receivers, a dual threat QB who looks to have great touch on his deep ball throws, and a 1,000 yard rusher in the backfield. Bud Foster and Virginia Techs defense will throw some looks at UT to confuse them and try to rush Dobbs’ into making errors like he did against Appalachian State. Josh Dobbs was 0–9 with 1 interception and 2 sacks when under pressure against the Mountaineers, but when the line gave him time he completed 15–21 for 196 yards and 1 TD. If the offense line comes to play, there is no doubt Tennessee will put on a show for the biggest stage college football has ever seen, but I think Virginia Tech keeps it close.
Virginia Tech (aka Hokie High) 21
Parks Buchanan (@ParksBuchanan):
After an intense and unnecessary week 1 overtime win, the Vols will try to bounce back in week 2 against Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Vols have a lot to work on, including play calling and effort. If Mike DeBord can balance the playbook and Dobbs makes the necessary throws, this game will be a blowout. I don’t think Tennessee’s defense gives up more than 14 points and I think their offense shows out as Hurd rushes for at least 130 yards. This defense is ready to prove who they are and show why this was a preseason top 10 team. Final score:
Virginia Tech 10
Brad Matthews (@BREM_Sports):
Many have questioned Butch Jones and Team 120 since the narrow overtime victory vs. App State. A victory that led to the second most significant drop in AP poll history by a winning team. Is there even a legitimate hype train or is that a hot air balloon filled with Vol fans’ displeasure?
Either way, Tennessee finds themselves in a statement game Saturday night in Bristol.
Virginia Tech doesn’t mind throwing it around, so expect Bob Shoop to have some more wiggle room when it comes to rushing the passer. If Joshua Dobbs is healthy and the offensive play calling opens up, Tennessee should have no problems with Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech 16
Charlie Burris (@Charlie_Burris):
Well, last week was pretty humbling for everybody, I think. Expectations were shattered and the hype train flew way off the tracks BUT Tennessee won and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. After last week’s debacle, I think Tennessee will come out mad with something to prove. They’re more talented at every level than Virginia Tech. The Vols’ front seven should be able to roll over VT’s weak offensive line and consistently pressure Jerod Evans. If Mike DeBord will open the playbook, the Vols’ offense should be able to produce more than enough points to put the Hokies away. Seemingly, this will be a low-scoring slog, but with a dynamic defense and decent offense, UT should be able to pull away late and cover the spread. Oh, and definitely take the under.
Virginia Tech 13