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.