Tennessee Season Win Total Prediction
Rocky Top has been itching for its football program to return to national prominence for several seasons now. With 18 starters coming back, is 2016 the big year?
Handicappers certainly expect as much from Tennessee. According to online sports book Bovada.lv, Butch Jones’ squad receives odds of +165 to surpass 10 victories. The 2015 group compiled a 9-4 record, including a 45-6 rout of Northwestern in the Outback Bowl, and a final ranking of 22nd in the AP poll.
This fall, nothing less than an SEC East title will do. Signal-caller Josh Dobbs, having already demonstrated his prowess as a runner, must display greater accuracy from the pocket. Even if the senior occasionally stumbles, though, there’s ample support in the backfield. Jalen Hurd’s on the verge of becoming the Volunteers’ all-time leading rusher, while Alvin Kamara provides a great complementary threat as a receiver. Along the offensive line, four of five starters return, too.
The defensive picture contains less certainty. New coordinator Bob Shoop promises to lean heavily on veteran linebackers Darrin Kirland Jr. and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. The Vols are still searching for a pair of dependable safeties, though, and the front four’s depth may raise eyebrows – unless 344-pound nose tackle Kahlil McKenzie serves as a one-man wrecking ball.
We’ll learn a lot about Tennessee’s legitimacy as early as Week 2, when Jones’ troops battle Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway. A solid non-conference triumph would function as a fine springboard into the SEC proceedings. Until Dobbs shows further consistency as a multifaceted performer, however, don’t bank on the Volunteers to reach double digits.
FRIDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK: TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS UNDER 10 WINS (-135)