Start Time: 7:30 PM ET. Thursday, September 1.
Location: Neyland Stadium (102,455) Knoxville, TN
TV: SEC Network
Series History: First meeting
Live Stats: statbroadcast.com
Line: App St. +20.5 O/U 60
Scott Satterfield leads his Mountaineers into Knoxville hoping to recreate the magic of its upending of Michigan exactly 9 years to the date, while Butch Johnson tries to get his team ready for a potential run to the SEC Championship game.
About App State: Appalachian State is coming off an 11-2 record and a second place finish in the Sun Belt in only its second season at the FBS level. The Mountaineers finds themselves as the favorite in the ‘16 conference race. The Mountaineers are led by preseason all-conference QB Taylor Lamb on offense (170-283, 60%, 2387 yds., 31TD, 9INT-in 2015) and Sun Belt preseason defensive player of the year linebacker John Law (72 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4 sacks-in 2015).
2 To Watch: RB-Marcus Cox--If the Mountaineers are to have a chance in Knoxville, then it will probably fall in the capable hands of Cox who has amassed over 2,800 yards rushing and 28 TDs The App State ground game is going to be the key to keep the Vols offense off the field.
LB-Eric Boggs—As capable a defender as his partner John Law is, he cannot stop the multiple offensive threats the Vols will throw at the Mountaineer D by himself. Enter Eric Boggs, potential All-America candidate who last year tallied 104 tackles and 3 interceptions. He will be active all over the field and should have his name called multiple times.
About Tennessee: The time appears to be now for the Vols. Last year was a story of so close but no cigar. Four losses by a combined total of 16 points kept the Vols from making a true national splash last year. Tennessee will flex its muscle on offense by featuring RB Jalen Hurd (277 ATT.-1288 YDS—12 TDS-2015) and will need to exert his best effort this season since the three projected starting WRs for the Vols combined for just 61 catches in ‘15.
2 To Watch: DE-Derek Barnett—Has recorded a sack in 7 of his last 8 games and has 20 sacks in 26 career games played. Barnett was a consensus freshman all-American in 2014 and appears to be poised for another huge year in ‘16 and is only 12 career sacks behind Tennessee legend Reggie White.
DE-Jonathon Kongbo—An unknown commodity as far as the SEC goes, Kongbo brings a semi trailer load of potential to the Vols defensive line. A unanimous choice as a JUCO all-American, he registered 55 tackles, 16 TFLs, and 11 sacks at Arizona Western in ‘15. Expect him to shine in a deep rotation at this position for Tennessee.
Prediction: The Mountaineers are well coached and will bring enough talent into Knoxville to demand a solid performance from the Vols, but the amount of talent on the orange side of the ball will eventually cause a separation on the field and on the board.
Tennessee 42 Appalachian State 17