February 28, 2024

Tennessee looks to get the offensive engines running for Battle at Bristol

The “Battle at Bristol” is expecting over 150,000 fans to attend what should be college football’s biggest game ever. Will the struggling offenses of both teams show up as well?

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 01, 2016 - Quarterback Josh Dobbs #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers scores a touchdown during overtime during the game between the Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Alison P. McNabbTennessee Athletics. No changes made.

It’s (the Battle at) Bristol, baby!

In one of the most anticipated games of the 2016-17 college football season, the Tennessee Volunteers meet up with the Virginia Tech Hokies in a border war at Bristol Motor Speedway.

College Gameday is coming to the long-awaited matchup, and a record crowd is expected to be at the game. Michigan holds the current single-game NCAA attendance record at 115,109. That record was set on Sept. 7, 2013, when the Wolverines beat Notre Dame 41-30. Interestingly enough, Michigan Stadium’s listed capacity is 110,601. The capacity of Bristol Motor Speedway? About 150,000, which would shatter the previous record.

Both Tennessee and Virginia Tech won their respective week one games, but both teams also struggled a bit to do so.

Tennessee went to overtime with a determined Appalachian State team and barely managed a win. The deciding score in the game was a Jalen Hurd fumble recovery in the endzone. Appalachian State had a potential game-winning drive in progress as the clock went under a minute in the fourth quarter, but Cam Sutton showed why he was voted as a permanent captain and provided a huge tackle-for-loss to keep the Mountaineers out of field goal range.

The Hokies began the post Frank Beamer era with a win. However, they struggled with turnovers in the first half. Two fumbles led to two Liberty touchdowns, and the Hokies found themselves down 13-10 to Liberty with a few minutes left before halftime. Jerod Evans threw two touchdown passes to end the half, finishing the day with a respectable 20-for-32 for 221 yards and four touchdowns. Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges each had stellar days catching the ball. Ford had 11 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown and Hodges had three receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns. The Hokies ended up getting the win, 36-13.

After 27 years as head coach for Virginia Tech, Frank Beamer decided last season was going to be his final year coaching the Hokies. One signature of every team coached by Beamer was an extremely strong defense and special teams unit. Virginia Tech has become one of the best teams in the nation at scoring non-offensive touchdowns. This style of play has become known in Blacksburg and around the nation as “Beamerball.” During his time at Virginia Tech, there was at least one defensive touchdown scored by all 11 positions on that side of the ball, and 35 different players scored touchdowns on special teams. Justin Fuente, the former head coach at Memphis, takes over for the future Hall of Famer.

This will be the ninth meeting all-time between the two schools. The first meeting was in 1896, and ended in a 6-4 victory for the Vols. The most recent meeting was in 2009 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Hokies won that 37-14 over the Vols, who were coached by Lane Kiffin in his only year in Knoxville.

Tennessee’s offense looks to bounce back after a less-than-impressive offensive showing in week one. If Tennessee wants to compete with Virginia Tech’s “Beamerball,” the Vols’ offense will need to be more productive. This rings especially true since one of the greatest defensive minds in all of college football, Bud Foster, is still calling the defensive shots for the Hokies.

Tennessee takes on Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ABC.

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Alison P. McNabb, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

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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