Tennessee Win-Total Pick
With their coach on the hot seat, will the Tennessee Volunteers put together a strong 2017 season?
According to oddsmakers at BetDSI, Tennessee is listed with 85/1 odds to win the College Football Playoffs this season. The Volunteers are also listed with 20/1 odds to win the SEC in 2017. When it comes to the over/under for regular-season wins, Tennessee is listed at 7.5. The over carries a line of -120, while the under has a money line of -110.
Butch Jones is entering his fifth season as head coach of the Vols. He has gone 30-21 overall in four years with the program, but is just 14-18 in SEC play. Tennessee has posted a 9-4 record the last two years, but have not managed to win a wide open SEC East, which is why Jones finds himself on the hot seat.
Tennessee was among the worst defensive teams in football in 2016, allowing 29.3 points and 460 yards per game. They really struggled to stop the run, giving up 231.7 yards per game on the ground. Tennessee lost its biggest stud on defense in Derek Barnett, who moved on to the NFL. He had 13 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season. Also gone is Corey Vereen, who had 7 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. One player who is back is Todd Kelly Jr., who had a team-high 71 tackles and two interceptions last season. Also back is defensive back Rashaan Gaulden, who had 68 tackles and six tackles for loss.
Offensively, the Vols averaged 36.4 points and 444 yards per game. They are working in a new offensive coordinator this year in Larry Scott. The big question for Tennessee will be finding a new quarterback. Josh Dobbs is gone after throwing for 2,946 yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for a team-high 831 yards and 12 scores. Jones hasn’t named a starter, as Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano are battling for the job. Dormady saw some time last year, throwing for 148 yards. A lot of pressure will be on the winner of the battle, as Tennessee has lost three of its top four rushers from last year. John Kelly is the only one back. He rushed for 630 yards and five touchdowns in 2016. The leading receiver is also gone, but Jauan Jennings seems ready to be the No. 1 after catching seven touchdown passes last season.
Tennessee opens the season on Monday, Sept. 4 against Georgia Tech inside the new Merceds-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Vols will also host Indiana State, Umass and Southern Miss in non-conference games. SEC play opens on Sept. 16 at Florida. Tennessee will also have to travel to Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri. Home games include Georgia, South Carolina, LSU and Vanderbilt. This is a pretty tough schedule. The SEC crossovers are very difficult with LSU and Alabama. Going to Florida won’t be a treat either. The opener with Georgia Tech is nearly a home game for the Jackets, as it is in Atlanta. That game is even tougher considering how many new starters Tennessee has. I see at least four losses this season for Tennessee, so you then have to assume they can beat the likes of Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Vandy. Tennessee hasn’t proven they are that program yet under Jones. I think this could be his final year in orange.
2017 WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: TENNESSEE UNDER 7.5 (-110)