Vols Still Open as Favorites Over BYU

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    Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

    Despite suffering a disastrous loss on Saturday in Neyland Stadium, Tennessee is still viewed as a slight favorite over BYU this upcoming weekend.

    The Vols (0-1) opened up as a one-point favorite over BYU (0-1) for next Saturday’s contest according to VegasInsider.com. After that initial opening line, Tennessee has now been pushed to a four-point favorite over the Cougars.

    Both Tennessee and BYU started off their 2019 seasons with losses, though one was far more humiliating than the other.

    BYU fell to No. 14 Utah on Thursday night, losing by a score of 30-12 at home. Quarterback Zach Wilson was ineffective against the Utes’ defense, completing 21 of his 33 passes for 208 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. Both of Wilson’s interceptions proved very costly, as both passes were returned for touchdowns. Francis Bernard picked off one of Wilson’s pases in the second quarter and returned it 58 yards for a score to give Utah a 9-3 lead after the PAT was missed. In the fourth quarter, Julian Blackmon buried BYU’s hopes of a comeback when he intercepted Wilson and took it back 39 yards for a touchdown, extending Utah’s lead to 30-6 with 12:25 to go in the game.

    BYU’s rushing attack was decent, but it was far from effective enough to get the job done, as the Cougars totaled 92 yards and a score on 22 carries. Wilson himself ran for 43 yards on eight carries while Ty’Son Williams — a transfer from South Carolina — led the team with 45 yards and a touchdown on seven attempts.

    Defensively, the Cougars couldn’t stop Utah’s Zach Moss. The Utes’ running back trampled BYU’s defense to the tune of 187 yards and a touchdowns on 29 carries. Utah as a whole ran for 262 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Huntley wasn’t asked to do much through the air, completing 13 of his 16 pass attempt for 106 yards. He also ran for 39 yards on eight carries.

    As bad as BYU’s loss was on Thursday, Tennessee’s loss on Saturday was far worse.

    The Vols dropped their season opener against Georgia State at home on Saturday afternoon, falling by a score of 38-30. The score would’ve been worse, but Tennessee manufactured a scoring drive in the final minute of the game to score a touchdown with two seconds left on the clock.

    Tennessee committed three turnovers against the Panthers, and all three proved costly. Georgia State quarterback Dan Ellington sliced and diced his way through Tennessee’s defense for two passing touchdowns and 61 yards rushing and a score to drive the Panthers to victory. Georgia State totaled 213 yards on the ground on 53 carries.

    Offensively, the Vols put up 404 total yards with 311 coming through the air from Jarrett Guarantano. Jauan Jennings set a career-high with seven receptions, totaling 108 yards and a score. But an interception and two fumbles derailed UT, and the offensive and defensive lines were both highly ineffective. Tennessee totaled just 93 rushing yards on 31 carries against a team that allowed over 250 rushing yards a game last season.

    The loss marked Tennessee’s first season-opening loss at home since 1983, and it was the Vols’ first-ever loss against a Sun Belt opponent.

    Still, oddsmakers in Vegas believe the Vols to be the better team in their upcoming match-up with BYU, and Tennessee is a slight home favorite over the Cougars as of now.