After a classic showdown between LSU and Wisconsin to start the season, the ESPN College GameDay crew heads to Bristol Motor Speedway in advance of the neutral-field battle between the No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers and Virginia Tech Hokies, dubbed The Battle at Bristol.
With NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the special guest picker and a capacity of 150,000 possible, this weekend could morph into a record-setting showdown. The game kicks off Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
Rece Davis, Lee Corso and Samantha Ponder will call the game, following the usual expert analysis by Corso, Desmond Howard and crew. Before the cross-sport festivities begin, let’s take a look at everything to know.
ESPN College GameDay: Week 2 Info
Date: Saturday, Sept. 10
Time (ET): 9 a.m. to noon; game is at 8 p.m.
Location: Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee
Live Stream: WatchESPN
An ACC-SEC battle is usually interesting, but Tennessee and Virginia Tech have given this one more intrigue than usual thanks to their Week 1 performances.
Virginia Tech kicked off the Justin Fuente era in style, giving the new head coach a 36-13 victory against Liberty. The problem? The Hokies coughed up four fumbles against the FCS program and hardly extended a 17-13 lead by halftime.
An unimpressive start by the Hokies gets swept under the rug compared to Tennessee’s start, though. The Volunteers needed overtime to get past Appalachian State, 20-13, and they actually entered the half down 13-3.
These problems don’t dominate much of the story thanks to the historic venue, as holding a game inside the speedway has been a topic of discussion for more than a decade. It’s something Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs—who threw for a touchdown and an interception in the Week 1 win—spoke about with the media.
“If we are more focused on the environment than actually football itself, then we won’t come out on top,” Dobbs said, according to ESPN.com. “We have to be locked in to the game plan and locked in from the first snap.”
Dobbs has the right idea, but last week’s performance hasn’t seemed to destroy Tennessee in the eyes of most—the Volunteers enter as 11.5-point favorites in Las Vegas, as reported by Odds Shark.
Given not only the sheer magnitude of the venue but the odd opening performances, Saturday’s evening contest could swing in either direction.
Las Vegas looks like it has a big miss on its hands here.
Ditto for those in charge of the rankings who thought Tennessee would boast an explosive offense with Dobbs under center. Maybe in time, but an encounter with a strong Virginia Tech defense after a sputtering start in Week 1 doesn’t bode well for the Volunteers.
It’s the same story on the opposite side of the ball. Quarterbacks who can extend plays with their feet shredded Tennessee last year, which is what makes Hokies starter Jerod Evans so scary—he threw for 221 yards and four scores last week while also leading the team in rushing with 46 yards on all of five carries.
While the first week isn’t the best indicator of a full season’s worth of play, it can trail into the second week in strong fashion. If Dobbs can’t help the Volunteers nickel-and-dime their way down the field, Evans will rip off smart, lengthy runs all day and control the pace on the way to a win.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, Tennessee 20
Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.
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Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News