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RTT Staff Picks: Appalachian State

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The Rocky Top Talk staff is confident as the Camellia Bowl champs come to Knoxville. With all seven members picking the Vols to beat the spread, are they too confident?

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

New season, new staff picks. Last year, Chris corrected picked the winners of 11 out of Tennessee's 13 games, topping the group, whereas Hunter went a stellar 9-4 against the spread, the only staff member more than a half-game above .500. This season, we have three additions to the staff and a round of clean slates. The Mountaineers are in town this evening to start the 2016 season, so let's get to picking.

Incipient: I have faith in Shoop to hold down a solid offense, and Butch Jones has shown that he can get his offenses humming with a month to prepare. Appalachian is good, but they should be outclassed here, much as they were against Clemson last season. I see the Vols jumping out early, building a 31-7 or so lead by the early third quarter, and then letting off the gas a little bit in the last 25 minutes. Tennessee 41 Appalachian State 17

Will: Every year I get a little concerned about these early season mid-majors. Bobby Petrino! Chuckie Keeton! Not UAB! And Butch Jones and Tennessee have won those games by 32, 31, and 29. I'm actually taking Tennessee by a little less here, not necessarily because I think Appalachian State is closer to Team 120 than any of those teams were to Teams 117-119, but because I think the style of play here will produce fewer opportunities for points. I don't think the outcome will ever be in doubt, and I don't think it'll be a coronation. Tennessee 34 Appalachian State 10

Joel: Tennessee 45 Appalachian State 20.

Chris: Volundore is way too optimistic about Butch/Debord adding wrinkles unless he's talking about the forward pass. Jokes! We got 'em. (The wrinkle is forward passes that go more than 15 yards from scrimmage, maybe--maybe--play action.) That being said, he basically stole my thunder, but if this team is anything close to where we think it'll be, Tennessee should be in for a better-than-it-looks-at-first opening win.

Vegas (as of when I_S started this round table) had Tennessee -20 in this game; the better question is if Vegas was counting a return score. I will--sure, why not. Tennessee 45 Appalachian State 13

Volundore: If by "style of play" Will means "Butch/Debord/Shoop will be unspeakably vanilla," I agree. Appy won 11 games last year and may keep it close for a while, but they don't have the skill from top to bottom to really challenge the Vols in the end. Because of that, I expect a lot of Hurd, a lot of Kamara, and not that many exotic blitzes. Butch knows there's a lot more to be gained from saving wrinkles that help Tennessee beat Florida and Virginia Tech than from beating Appalachian State in biblical fashion. Tennessee 38 Appalachian State 17

Justin: Stop me if you've heard this, but nine years ago Appalachian State went into The Big House and... oh, who cares? Historical remembrances can be a bit selective, so let's fill in the blanks since that glorious 2007 ASU victory: In 6 of the last 8 years, Appalachian State has lost its opener by an average score of 42-14 with losses to LSU, VaTech, Michigan, East Carolina (twice) and Montana. It's not 2007 anymore. It's 2016, which means it's every other year. Tennesseee 42 Appalachian State 14

Trey: I think Butch likes to see his system as dynamic and adaptable, so I expect to see a few early 10+ yard play-action passes. And by "a few," I mean, like, two. Followed by Butch/Debord settling into their happy place of interior handoffs and Clinton-era screen passes. Won't matter to the score, though. Tennessee 48 Appalachian State 9

Rocky Top Talk Staff Average: Tennessee 42 Appalachian State 14

Vegas: Tennessee -20.5. Over/under 60.5. Tennessee 41 Appalachian State 20