Georgia State @ Tennessee: On Top of Rocky Top

SEC Logo     “Rocky Top, you’ll always be home sweet home to me.  Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee”.  If you are a member of the Georgia State Panthers, I would suggest you go ahead and get familiar with those words because you are going to hear it… A LOT!  The Georgia State Panthers are traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee to play at the revered Neyland Stadium.  The familiar confines and checkerboard endzones of Neyland don’t strike the same fear into opposing teams as it once did but coach Jeremy Pruitt has Volunteer fans seeing orange.

Georgia State was one of the worst teams in the Sun Belt Conference last year.  This year the Panthers are returning their Senior quarterback who led the team in passing and rushing from a year ago.  The offense expects to improve with experience in key positions and continuity at head coach as Shawn Elliot enters his 3rd year in Atlanta.  The defense brings back seven starters which is the good news.  The bad news is that they were one of the worst defenses in all of FBS football.  Even though the experience level has increased and on field play may improve, this unit will likely still struggle.

Everything that was said about Georgia State bodes well for the Tennessee Volunteers.  They have got to be licking their chops and chomping at the bit to get after this Georgia State team.  Coach Pruitt is a defensive mind and will have this Vol defense really amped up for this tune-up game.  The secondary is led by a talented trio of sophomores but anchored with a Senior in Nigel Warrior.  The Volunteers need to bump up the turnover margin numbers, finishing last year with -1, and going against the Panthers 92nd ranked passing offense, expect the DBs to snag a few free ones.  On offense, it is time for Junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to shine.  He was the #1 dual threat quarterback out of high school 3 years ago and just hasn’t shown the consistency to allow Tennessee to compete with the big boys.  With a strong group of pass catchers and a deep stable of quality running backs, the offense should finally get rolling.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt has worked hard and finally instilled a work-pail, blue-collar mentality into this Volunteer team.  That, coupled with solid recruiting, should make this team much more formidable.  They will show off their new found swagger at the expense of Georgia State this week.  The book makers have the spread a hair too high and the total a bit too much for this early season matchup, though.  Expect Tennessee to easily win but fail to cover the 25.5-point spread.  The game will also drift below 57.5.  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 27-6 Volunteer victory.  Until next time, good luck.

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SEC: Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

SEC Logo     Elldee Sports finishes up the Power 5 Conference previews with a look at the Southeastern Conference.  They say humans have a “recent memory” bias and the most recent memory from this conference was a shellacking of the conference champion Alabama Crimson Tide, 44-16, at the hands of the ACC’s Clemson Tigers.  It is starting to look like the other conferences have caught up to the mighty SEC but don’t count them out just yet.

When breaking down the SEC West, you have to start in Tuscaloosa, home of the Crimson Tide.  The last time on the field, Alabama was thoroughly handled and it was not a good look for a team and fans who have had a hard time accepting defeat over the last decade.  They are ready to jump right back into the thick of the national conversation, though.  They return last year’s Heisman runner-up along with almost all of the skill positions.  Pair that with a defense that is always stout and you have a recipe for success.  The main chink in the Tide armor is the offensive line, as they have to replace 4/5 of it.  It also doesn’t help that they have serious competition this year in LSU and Texas A&M.  LSU has quite a few returning starters and Coach “O” begins his third year for the Tigers but the Elldee Sports formula doesn’t look as high on the Tigers as the pundits.  The experts say LSU finishes 2nd but we believe they are only going to win 7 and finish outside of the top 25.  Texas A&M is expected to be better in year 2 with Jimbo Fisher and QB Kellen Mond but Elldee Sports thinks they will finish just above LSU with only 8 wins.  This is in part due to a non-conference game against Clemson in Week 2.  The big surprise of the West will actually be the Mississippi State Bulldogs!  They have a favorable schedule and a super weak non-conference lineup.  Add that in with a solid coaching staff led by Joe Moorhead and we will see why he was brought in.  The Bulldogs of Starkville will win 11 and finish with one loss to undefeated Alabama for the West.

The East is a little different as it appears the Georgia Bulldogs are still head and shoulders over the rest of the division.  They really only have one game that is a toss-up and that is vs. arch-rival Florida at a neutral site.  There seems to be a large gap between the number 2 team and the number 3 team in the East.  The Elldee Sports Formula shows Georgia finishing with 11 wins, 12 if they can handle business in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.  Florida has a much more difficult path as they will have toss-ups vs. Georgia and LSU, plus a projected loss to the Missouri Tigers for the 3rd straight Season.  While still having a chance to win the East if they beat the Bulldogs and Tigers of Baton Rouge, the odds are not in their favor if they lose either when combined with a loss to Mizzou.

With Alabama winning the West and Georgia winning the East, we are primed for a third straight season where we see an exciting matchup between these two squads.  The hard part for Georgia fans is that things will play out the same, with Alabama winning 14-9 in Atlanta, propelling them into the CFB Playoff.  As the #1 seed, they will face the #4 seed Washington State Cougars.  Until next time, good luck.

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