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Staff Picks: Tennessee vs North Texas

After a giant collective whiff against South Carolina, the Rocky Top Talk staff predicts which score Butch Jones will name against North Texas.

The staff consensus predicts that you will see this man take the field against Tennessee.
The staff consensus predicts that you will see this man take the field against Tennessee.
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

0-7. For the first time this year, every staff member was on the wrong side of the spread in Tennessee's 27-24 win over South Carolina. Of course, they were all on the right side straight up, but when you're dealing with a 17-point favorite who pulls off the victory, that's none too surprising. For the third straight week, Closest to the Pin goes to Will, whose 41-20 pick was 18 points off the margin and ten points off the total. But for the third straight week, he was beaten by a commenter, this time SEC4Life, whose jinx-averse 24-17 prediction was just four points off the margin and ten points off the total. This week, the staff tries to get back on the right side of the spread as the Vols seek bowl eligibility against the 1-8 North Texas Mean Green.

Incipient (6-3 straight up, 5-4 against the spread): Let's be frank. This is a game where Tennessee can name their score. North Texas is arguably the worst team that's come into Neyland in Butch Jones' tenure here, although they have been somewhat more competitive since firing Dan McCarney. Still, while they certainly could play well enough to make Vols fans worry about one unit or the other, we're almost certainly going to go into the fourth quarter with backups in the game and Butch Jones deciding how much he wants to score. And in his time at Tennessee, Jones has never picked a score with a margin of more than 45 points. We all want to see the backups get more game reps, but so far, it hasn't seemed like Jones' style. Dormady gets to throw for a drive or two and then Kelly runs into the line for the rest of the game. Tennessee has a breakdown on defense at some point to give UNT a touchdown, and the Vols put up 52 before shutting it down. Tennessee 52 North Texas 7

Hunter (5-4 straight up, 5-4 against the spread): North Texas is horrible, but Tennessee is going to play backups for large portions of this game, and backups make mistakes. Aaron Medley gets a workout, Quinten Dormady shows off his arm, John Kelly racks up some carries, and the Vols empty the bench. Tennessee 31 North Texas 17

Chris (7-2 straight up, 5-4 against the spread): ::yawns, stretches, walks for 150 yards and three TDs against North Texas::

Seriously, they're bad. Tennessee 73 North Texas 6

Charlie (6-3 straight up, 6-3 against the spread): Why is this game even happening? Earlier this season, North Texas lost to Portland State 66-7. They are arguably the worst team in the FBS. I feel bad for the Mean Green. They don't deserve the merciless beating they're going to receive on Saturday. North Texas is simply a sacrificial lamb on the Vols' road to 8 wins but, nonetheless, this game is happening. I don't know a single player on North Texas' team, nor do I intend to ever find out any of them. Tennessee runs all over them, Josh Dobbs plays two quarters at most, and the 3rd-stringers will still drive up the score late in the game. Tennessee 62 North Texas 10

Nathanael (6-3 straight up, 4-5 against the spread): This game is a laughable offense to college football. North Texas will be the worst team that's stepped foot in Neyland Stadium in years, if not ever. The Vols have no reason to be playing them. But they are, and thus we must pick a score for this game. I truly believe and hope the starters are out of this game before or at halftime, and we get to watch players like Quinten Dormady, John Kelly, Micah Abernathy, and the like get some significant playing time. Tennessee can put up whatever score they want, but the staff will likely be conservative in their play-calling to avoid injuries (and rightfully so). So with that in mind, I predict a blowout, but not one that will see the Vols put up 60 or 70 points. Tennessee 55 North Texas 13

Joel (6-3 straight up, 6-3 against the spread): Tennessee 52 North Texas 10

Will (6-3 straight up, 5-4 against the spread): That thing Butch Jones said a couple weeks ago about leaving your starters in longer because of so many big comebacks recently was maybe true against Kentucky, but should not be an issue if the situation presents itself against anemic offenses from Missouri and Vanderbilt.  The situation should absolutely present itself against North Texas, where the goal has to be to get your starters out at halftime.  If the Vols do get to stretch the legs of their backups, I think North Texas will get a couple of opportunities to score.  But this should be the burden-free Saturday many of us were looking for last week.  #letdormadythrow Tennessee 59 North Texas 10

Rocky Top Talk Staff Average (5-4 straight up, 5-4 against the spread): Tennessee 55 North Texas 10

Vegas (for reference): Tennessee -41, over/under 66.5. Tennessee 54 North Texas 13