July 22, 2024

Tennessee hopes to stave off upset-minded App State

It’s once again football time in Tennessee, and the 2016 season gets under way with an interesting match-up against the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Will the Vols be on upset alert, or will they handle their business?

COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 21, 2015 - running back Alvin Kamara #6 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Missouri Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Memorial Stadium at Faurot Field in Columbia, MO. Photo By Donald Page/Tennessee Athletics

It’s (finally) football time in Tennessee!

The Tennessee Volunteers open their 2016 campaign on Thursday, Sept. 1, against the Mountaineers of Appalachian State.

Tennessee and App. State are two of the hottest teams in all of FBS right now, but for different reasons.

Fans of the Big Orange have high hopes for this season, and deservedly so. The Vols starts the season ranked No. 9 in the AP poll, the highest preseason ranking since 2005. Down the stretch last season, Tennessee was one of the hottest teams in the nation, outscoring its final six opponents by an average of over three touchdowns.

Appalachian State, a former FCS powerhouse, experienced an incredible second year in FBS, winning 10 games plus a bowl game. The Mountaineers look to build upon the success they have witnessed in just two years in the highest level of college football under head coach Scott Satterfield.

The Vols, fresh off a nine-win season in 2015, are currently tied for the third-longest active winning streak in college football at six games. Not to be outdone, Appalachian State is only two spots behind with a four game win streak, both dating back to last season.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams separated by a mere three-hour drive.

The backfield will be key for both teams in this game. Tennessee senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs has improved each year he has donned the orange and white, and could even squeeze himself into the Heisman race this year.

Rocky Top already has an outstanding duo at running back in Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, who are among the best in the country at that position. However, as much as Dobbs has improved over his years in Knoxville, he is still arguably the biggest question mark of this veteran group.

The Mountaineers finished last season sixth in the nation in rushing (Tennessee came in 21st in that category). Marcus Cox, the workhorse of the App. State offense, looks to pick up his senior season where he left off. Cox tallied a staggering 1,423 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Combine Cox with sophomore Jalin Moore and junior Terrence Upshaw who combined for another 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns, and you have yourself a pretty daunting running back corps.

Despite the monster numbers they put up on the ground, however, junior quarterback Taylor Lamb would not be outdone. Along with his 436 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns, Lamb threw for an impressive 2,387 yards and 31 touchdowns. His 31 passing touchdowns set a new school record.

Many people may remember in 2007 when the then-FCS member Appalachian State went into Ann Arbor and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in sports history over then-ranked No. 5 FBS Michigan Wolverines. It marked the first time a true FCS team won over a ranked FBS team.

However, since that game, App State has played Power Five FBS teams like LSU (that meeting in 2008 marked the first meeting of the reigning FCS and FBS National Champions), Florida, Virginia Tech and Georgia, and (with all due respect to the Mountaineers) those games went about how one would expect a game between an FCS and FBS team to go. If you’re a fan of sports games, you can use online games on Sonsaur.

But now, as a full-fledged member of FBS with an 11-win season behind them and one of the best backfields in the country, Appalachian State fans are giddy at the prospect of once again shocking the world.

One more reason for App State fans to be optimistic: The game against Michigan came on Sept. 1, 2007, 9 years to the day before their date with the No. 9-ranked team in the nation.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured image by Donald Page, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Matt is a sophomore journalism and electronic media major at the University of Tennessee. He enjoys watching any and all sports, and is an active member in the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. Follow him on twitter @mattraymond271