It’s that time of year where we give our straight-up, game-by-game predictions for the Vols’ season. We’ll post updated picks every week that might change from our original selections if circumstances change, but we like to go on the record before the season starts as well.
Last year Daniel picked UT to go 5-7, Houston called 7-5 and Reed went the extra mile and called 7-6 (with the bowl win) to claim the most accurate UT predictions in 2014. We’ll see if we can all get within a game of the regular-season total again this year.
September 5th vs. Bowling Green (Nashville)
Daniel: No need to overthink this one too much. Bowling Green will put some points on the board with its fast-paced, no-huddle offense that features several talented players on that side of the ball. But the Falcons can’t stop the Vols regularly when Tennessee has the ball. Being short-handed at receiver will just mean more opportunities for players such as Jauan Jennings and Josh Malone, and the Vols will do what they want in the run game and pick some spots to make big plays through the air to some of the newer targets. Winner: Volunteers
Houston: New faces, a new offensive coordinator and returning players in new roles for the Vols may keep this game from being the blowout that many are hoping for. But fear not, Vol Nation. The Vol defense is too talented to allow the Falcons to get into any type of consistent rhythm, and Bowling Green’s defense will struggle all game to slow down Tennessee’s high-octane offense. Look for Bowling Green to do some damage through the air and pop a long run or two, but Tennessee’s offense should control the game from opening kickoff to the final whistle, allowing time for the defense to settle in. Lots of young players will see valuable minutes…enjoy it. Winner: Volunteers
Reed: It’s amazing how far the Vols have come in one season. Last year at this time Utah State was a sexy pick to upset UT in Neyland Stadium. The Vols rolled in that one and should roll in this one over a decent Bowling Green team. The Falcons have a potent offense, but Tennessee’s superior speed and talent level should effectively bottle them up. Don’t be surprised if they score around 17 points or so with a garbage time TD, but it won’t be enough to put a scare in the Vols – the Bowling Green defense was one of the worst in the MAC last year and is breaking in a new DC. Dobbs and Co. should put up as many points as they want on Saturday. Winner: Volunteers