KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee opened as a 19 1/2-point favorite over Appalachian State for its Sept. 1 opener at Neyland Stadium, and the line quickly jumped to 23 1/2 points, according to VegasInsider.com.
The Vols return 17 starters from a team that finished last season 9-4, winning the final six games of the 2015 season, including a 45-6 blowout victory over No. 13 Northwestern in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Jan. 1.
Nine of the 17 Tennessee starters returning are on an offense that gained the most yards rushing in a season (2,908) since the Vols’ 1951 national championship run (3,068)
Spearheaded by explosive rising junior Jalen Hurd, Tennessee averaged 223.7 yards on the ground per game, breaking the 200-yard mark nine times and going over 300 twice.
The Vols’ six-game win streak represents a sort of momentum that few other FBS teams bring into the season; only Alabama (12) and San Diego State (10) enter the 2016 season with longer active win streaks.
Tennessee has won 21 consecutive home openers entering the tilt, but FBS newcomer Appalachian State is coming off an 11-win season and its first-ever bowl victory.
The Mountaineers are known best for their stunning 34-32 victory over a No. 5-ranked Michigan team in Ann Arbor in both teams’ 2007 season opener.
Vols’ offensive coordinator Mike DeBord was serving his final year as the Wolverines’ offensive coordinator under then-head coach Lloyd Carr at the time of Appalachian State’s historic upset at Michigan Stadium.
DeBord finished the coaching portion of his career with the Wolverines with a 41-35 victory over Coach Urban Meyer and Florida in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2008.