Football season is here. Tennessee’s Vols and Georgia State’s Panthers will start the season off at Neyland Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 31. Additionally, ESPNU will stream the game.
In 2012, the two-year-old Georgia State football program traveled to Knoxville to face Tennessee, and the Vols came away with a 51-13 victory.
Though the Panther program now has a few more years to its name, Saturday’s rematch will likely resemble the teams’ 2012 matchup.
The Vols went 5-7 in 2018 and finished the season at the bottom of the SEC East.
However, Tennessee shows signs of being on the rise. Tennessee’s wins against Auburn and Kentucky last season showed improvement from 2017, when the Vols failed to secure a single SEC win.
Coach Jeremy Pruitt, who now has a year of experience working in the Tennessee program, remains a beacon of hope for Vol fans.
Pruitt’s highly touted recruiting skills have brought an influx of talent into the program. This talent may pay off early this season. A number of freshmen may see playing time early this year, including offensive linemen Darnell Wright and Wanya Morris.
Tennessee has recruited linebackers particularly well this past offseason. Freshman linebacker Henry To’o To’o will likely start against Georgia State at middle linebacker while Daniel Bituli recovers from knee surgery.
However, sports enthusiasts could see the largest difference in new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney. Chaney was previously Tennessee’s offensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012 and served as the offensive coordinator at Georgia last season.
Georgia State’s team finished 2018 at the bottom of their conference, the Sun Belt, after going 2-10. Georgia State also enters Saturday’s game on a significant losing streak. The Panthers have dropped their last seven games to close the season out.
This is an important game for the Vols. Losing a home opener against Georgia State would stifle the hype around a Tennessee team that seems to be trending upward. Sports enthusiasts should not take Georgia State lightly. The Panthers upset FCS powerhouse Kennesaw State at the opening of last season.
Regardless, the Vols have a clear upper hand on the Panthers and are the heavy favorites in this one. Pregame.com has the Vols winning by 26.
Information about tickets and future games is listed online.
Predictions from the Editors
Christian Knox — Tennessee 34, Georgia State 10: Tennessee will build a comfortable lead early, and the Vols will keep the Panthers out of field goal range most of the game. However, Georgia State will break a long touchdown at some point.
Dusty Bryan —Tennessee 56, Georgia State 10: Expect to see an improved offense thanks to the new offensive coordinator Chaney, returning starters and bigger bodies on the o-line. Those improvements should be on full display Saturday.
Edited by Ciera Noe and Ainsley Kelso
Featured image courtesy of Wade Rackley