Tennessee opens Josh Heupel’s second season as head coach Thursday night against Ball State inside Neyland Stadium.
Each week, the RTI team will provide game predictions for Tennessee’s weekly opponent.
We start with Ball State.
This game is about Tennessee. For a second straight season, Tennessee is opening the season on a Thursday night, away from most college football competition on television. That is because Tennessee wants a space of its own to show off its product to the world. That includes the new Neyland Stadium enhancements and it includes a high-powered scoring offense. That’s what I expect to see on Thursday night in Knoxville. I expect Tennessee to put on a show for the college football world to see.
Ball State doesn’t pose much of a threat for Tennessee, and really, much of this game will be about Tennessee figuring out which pieces work best in what spots. I think we see Tennessee come out and overwhelm an inexperienced defense with speed and tempo which translates to a substantial lead.
If Tennessee can come in and execute their game plan, this should be a relatively drama-free win for the Volunteers to open up the season.
Prediction: Tennessee 45, Ball State 13
More From RTI: Tennessee Football Season Predictions
Tennessee welcomes Ball State to Neyland Stadium Thursday night to open Josh Heupel’s second season as head coach. Its the second straight year the Vols have opened the season on Thursday night against a MAC team. Ball State is coming off a 6-7 season and lost some important pieces from their second straight bowl team. John Paddock replaces Drew Plitt at quarterback after spending three years as the Cardinals backup and Ball State looks to replace a number of important defensive players from last season’s team. However, this game is about Tennessee getting off to a strong start to its season. Ball State does not have the “Jimmy and Joes” to play with Tennessee and if the Vols come out and play like they’re capable, this one will be well over by halftime. Tennessee’s offense was dominant in opening quarters a season ago and Ball State has question marks in its secondary. I think that’s a recipe for a quick Tennessee start and a lopsided win.
Prediction: Tennessee 52, Ball State 14