#25 Tennessee Volunteers vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Monday, September 4, 2017, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
Opening Line: Tennessee -3
Current Line: Tennessee -3 1/2
Opening Total: 59 1/2
Current Total: 55 1/2
Opening Money Line: Tennessee -185 / Georgia Tech +160
Current Money Line: Tennessee -170 / Georgia Tech +150
The Tennessee Volunteers take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Monday night in what is technically a neutral site game. Still even though the game takes place in Atlanta, which is the home city for Georgia Tech, expect plenty of orange clad fans belting out Rocky Top.
Tennessee leads the series 24-17-2 against Georgia Tech but they haven’t played since 1987. For what it’s worth, the Volunteers have gone 3-1-1 against the Yellow Jackets in the last five meetings.
Tennessee is coached by Butch Jones. The Volunteers went 9-4 last year and 4-4 in the SEC. Tennessee beat Nebraska 38-24 in the Music City Bowl. The Volunteers were 6-7 ATS and the total was 9-4 last year.
Georgia Tech is coached by Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets were 9-4 last year and 4-4 in the ACC. Georgia Tech beat Kentucky 33-18 in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The Yellow Jackets were 7-4-1 ATS and the total was 6-5-1 last year.
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Tennessee outscored teams 36-28 last season. The Volunteers averaged 444 yards per game on offense including 239 passing and 205 rushing yards per game. On defense, Tennessee allowed 449 yards per game including 239 passing and 219 rushing yards. The Volunteers were -2 in turnovers with 24 takeaways. Tennessee averaged 57 penalty yards per game and opponents averaged 52 per game. The Volunteers were 74/184 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 86/232. Tennessee forced 30 sacks and allowed 25 last season. The Volunteers were 43/49 scoring in the red zone with 36 touchdowns, and opponents were 43/50 with 31 touchdowns.
Quarterback Joshua Dobbs is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He completed 63% of his passes for 2,946 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, plus 150 carries for 831 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead the team in rushing. Junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano are locked in a tight battle to replace Dobbs. Jones has yet to name a starter. Both will likely see action in the season opener against Georgia Tech in a couple of weeks. Dormady threw for 148 yards last year behind Dobbs. Dormady is more of a pocket passer, while Guarantano is more mobile by a long way.
Running backs Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd are both gone. Kamara is now with the New Orleans Saints. He had 103 carries for 596 yards with 9 touchdowns, along with 40 catches for 392 yards and 4 touchdowns. Hurd left the team midway through last season and will transfer to Baylor. Hurd had 122 carries 451 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 10 catches for 81 yards and 2 touchdowns. John Kelly is back though and rushed for more yards than Kamara and Hurd. Kelly had 98 carries for 630 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus six catches. Sophomore Carlin Fils-Aime will get most of the back-up carries. True freshman Ty Chandler will also get some carries.
Receiver Josh Malone is now with the Cincinnati Bengals. He had 50 catches for 972 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jauan Jennings is back after making 40 catches for 580 yards and 7 touchdowns. Tyler Bird had 15 catches for 209 yards. Marquez Callaway will also start at receiver. Receivers Josh Smith and Jacquez Jones are both out indefinitely. Tight end Jason Croom is now with the Buffalo Bills after making 21 catches for 242 yards. Tight end Ethan Wolf had 21 catches for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns last year.
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Georgia Tech outscored teams 28-25 last season. The Yellow Jackets averaged 387 yards per game on offense including 129 passing and 258 rushing yards. Georgia Tech allowed 402 yards per game on defense including 229 passing and 172 rushing. The Yellow Jackets were +4 in turnovers with 19 takeaways. Georgia Tech averaged 39 penalty yards per game and opponents averaged 41 per game. The Yellow Jackets were 75/175 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 103/208. Georgia Tech forced 18 sacks and allowed 16 last season. The Yellow Jackets were 35/41 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns, and opponents were 37/46 with 28 touchdowns.
Quarterback Justin Thomas has graduated. He threw for 1,559 yards with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, plus he had 137 carries for 604 yards with 6 touchdowns. Junior Matthew Jordan narrowly beat out another junior TaQuon Marshall for the starting job. Both could see action Monday. Jordan had had 6 rushing touchdowns last year as the short yardage quarterback.
Running back Dedrick Mills had 152 carries for 771 yards and 12 touchdowns, plus a touchdown catch last year. However, he was kicked off the team in the middle of August for violating team rules. KirVonte Benson will start in his place. Qua Searcy had 46 catches for 273 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 10 catches for 183 yards. J.J. Green had 154 rushing yards and a touchdown. Clinton Lynch had 37 carries for 415 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 16 catches for 490 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is questionable for unknown reasons.
Receiver Ricky Jeune had 25 catches for 427 yards and a touchdown. Brad Stewart had 19 catches for 382 yards.
Tennessee is 6-0 ATS in neutral site games. Georgia Tech is 4-0 ATS overall, and in non-conference games, 3-0-1 in neutral site games, 5-1 against SEC teams, and 1-3-1 in September.
Tennessee looks to contend with Georgia and Florida for the SEC East title. Georgia Tech also looks to contend for a division title in the wide open ACC Coastal Division. The Volunteers struggled to stop the run last year, and need to improve drastically against the Yellow Jackets’ triple option attack. I like the Volunteers to escape with a win.