Back App State to Test Self, Tennessee

App State to Test Self, Tennessee

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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On a schedule filled with compelling matchups, Appalachian State's Thursday night trip to Tennessee is one worth remembering.

There are numerous headline pairings set for college football's opening weekend, including multiple games with national implications. Don't overlook Appalachian State's visit to Tennessee. Separated by roughly 160 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains, these two proud programs have never before met. Fresh off its first bowl win in school history, Appalachian State is the pre-season favorite in the Sun Belt Conference. The Volunteers, slotted in the top ten in some summer polls, are picked to win the SEC East.

Appalachian State and Tennessee combined for 20 wins in 2015; from October 10th on, the teams combined to go 15-2 down the home stretch.  When the Mountaineers and Volunteers collide, they will bring plenty of momentum with them.

On paper, Appalachian State has one of the nation's most balanced teams. Back is star quarterback Taylor Lamb, who finished in the top ten in the country in touchdowns and passer rating, to go along with 1,400-yard rusher back Marcus Cox and all-league guard Parker Collins. Linebackers Eric Boggs and John Law anchor the defense. Head coach Scott Satterfield has overseen a successful transition to the FBS level.

A year ago, the Mountaineers led the Sun Belt in both total offense and total defense by a wide margin.

The Volunteers are poised to have their best team in years. Led by quarterback Joshua Dobbs, running back Jalen Hurd and defensive end Derek Barnett, Butch Jones has a team that appears ready to contend on a national stage.

Week three, a home clash with Miami at Kidd Brewer Stadium, will come with great attention and fanfare for the Mountaineers. Week one at Neyland Stadium, however, will serve as a tremendous initial barometer. With goals beyond simply starting 1-0, the outcome of the upcoming season-opener won't define Appalachian State's year. That said, the Mountaineers, an impressive 17-2 over their past 19 games, do have a chance to make statement.

On a schedule filled with compelling matchups, Appalachian State's Thursday night trip to Tennessee is one worth remembering.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports