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I absolutely love the Vols opening up against Ball State. You want the first game of the season to be like a garden salad; I don’t need primetime football during week one; I just need something that will hold me over until I get my entree when Florida comes to Knoxville in week four. Josh Heupel gave Tennessee everything you would want from a first-year head coach last season. Sure, the Florida game was messier than the Battle of Antietam and yes, keeping it competitive with either team from the national championship game would have been nice. Still, they performed on offense and identified what to build around. Last year, the Vols finished ninth in the country averaging 475 yards per game, and they went seven and one when they could score more than thirty-five points. It’s truly the offense of a fourteen-year-old kid playing Madden. After finishing 2021 with a 68.2% completion rate, 2,945 passing yards, and thirty-one touchdowns, Hendon Hooker is coming into this year as a top-three SEC QB.
The defense has to put together a better campaign for Tennessee this year, as they, at times last season, looked more inept than a substitute teacher trying to control a classroom. Anytime the number of 500 yard games your defense gave up in a season matches the number of girls the average college guy took home during that period, it’s no Bueno. However, Tennessee did demonstrate that they could get pressure on an opposing QB, and there’s no better way for Tim Banks’ defense to build confidence than sacking the hell out of Ball State. I expect Ball State to convert five third downs max, and so does Vegas because the Vols are favored by thirty-five. I love the pick; I think this game will resemble that one Peyton Manning SNL sketch where he decks the little kids. Take the Vols straight up and take your free $200 from DraftKings!