The Tennessee Volunteers are slated to kick-off their season on Thursday night under the lights of Neyland Stadium against the Bowling Green Falcons. The last time these two met was in 2015. The Vols came into the game ranked 25th in the country, and early-on in the game, failed to separate themselves from the Falcons. Allowing Bowling Green to hang up 10 points in each of the first three quarters, it wasn’t until the second half that Tennessee was able to pull away, inevitably winning the game 59-30.
Under first-year head coach Josh Heupel, the Tennessee fan base is looking for a more dominating performance against Bowling Green in 2021 to cleanse their palates of the Jeremy Pruitt regime that encompassed the program for the last three years.
John Dunn (Founder/Managing Editor/Host):
The main focus for me in this game will be how natural Tennessee looks in a dominating performance. Bowling Green was the worst team in college football last season. The Vols have to absolutely dominate the Falcons, and they have to make it look easy. Anything short of a 28-point win, while making it look like that is what is supposed to happen, will be an utter disappointment. I expect first-year quarterback Joe Milton to throw for 300 yards, three touchdowns, and rush for one touchdown, with no turnovers. I expect two rushing touchdowns between Tiyon Evans and Jabari Small.
I don’t expect the Vols defense to struggle too much against a MAC squad, so I don’t expect this to be an accurate gauge of the Tennessee defense. Therefore, we will have to wait until the Pittsburgh game in week-two to accurately analyze the Vols defense.
I fully expect Tennessee to come out and do exactly what they are supposed to do; take care of business.
Prediction: Tennessee - 45 | Bowling Green - 17
William Allen (Senior Staff Writer):
The Falcons third year head coach Scot Loeffler comes in with a 3-14 record, going 3-9 his first season, and 0-5 during the 2020 pandemic. Loeffler brings with him 6’3 210-pound 2020 senior transfer quarterback Matt McDonald from Boston College, who threw for 712 yards, and one TD with six INT’s in 2020. The Vols offensive line, led by senior Cade Mays, will be an instrumental factor, if the offense plans to hit the ground running. Tennessee has a lot to prove after going a miserable 3-7 last season, but I have Bowling Green losing on Rocky Top.
Prediction: Tennessee - 45 | Bowling Green - 13
Zac Strickland (Junior Staff Writer):
First year coach Josh Heupel and the new-look Vols will have their struggles as they navigate the always brutal SEC, but Bowling Green is no more than a hollow shell of their 2015 selves. The Falcons were 0-5 in the 2020 season, averaging 11ppg while conceding 45ppg. They return starting QB Matt McDonald, who has a 46.6% career completion rate with 3 TD and 6 INT. Expect them to be a bit better this year, but not enough to hang with the Vols, who still have far superior talent even after the offseason’s mass exodus to the transfer portal. This one gets ugly early, as Joe Milton starts and posts video game numbers.
Prediction: Tennessee - 63 | Bowling Green - 10
Zach Barnett (Junior Staff Writer):
A lot of question marks and hurdles are in the future for Tennessee, but Bowling Green shouldn’t be one of them. The Vols are returning talent, albeit through the transfer portal, but they are still talented. First-year starter quarterback Joe Milton should lead this up-tempo Tennessee offense to an easy victory over the visiting Falcons. Bowling Green hangs around early, but Tennessee’s talent begins to show its dominance as the game goes on.
Prediction: Tennessee - 49 | Bowling Green - 17
Darrell Winstead (Senior Staff Writer):
This is nothing more than a softball toss game for the Vols and new head coach, Josh Heupel, as they look to start this era off with a home run win. Bowling Green ranks 128th out of 130 DIV-1 teams, and should give very little resistance against a Tennessee team that is trying to get back to its winning ways of yesteryears. Although a bit tempered by many, there is a buzz that seems different than with past regimes. The Vols stand as a current 34-point favorite, but that’s a lot for a rebuilding team with a new coaching staff. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t impose their will and have their way with the Falcons. This should be a home run derby game for the Vols.
Prediction: Tennessee - 41 | Bowling Green - 17
Dallas Bowling (Junior Staff Writer):
While beating Bowling Green won’t do much for the fan perspective of Coach Josh Heupel, losing this game would be disastrous. Don’t fear though, I have very little doubt that the Vols will win this game. The talent advantage will be too much, and first-year starter Joe Milton will have the chance to show off the Vols’ new offense.
Prediction: Tennessee - 52 | Bowling Green - 24
Brandon Payne (Junior Staff Writer):
I look for the Vols to be shaky early, on both sides of the ball, as starters find their stride. Tennessee will get things under control fairly quickly. Bowling Green has a fairly efficient running game and O-Line, so I expect them to bust a few runs here-and-there, but don’t expect them to have much of a passing game. I expect to see a heavy dose of the Vols passing attack offense, and putting several scores on the board. I also expect to see several players rotating continuously in the 2nd half as Tennessee works to get the best 11 players on the field.
Prediction: Tennessee - 38 | Bowling Green - 10
Joe Davis (Junior Staff Writer):
The Heupel era could not start off with a better opponent for a first-year head coach at a school that's been beleaguered with turmoil for more than a decade. Bowling Green has won 12 total games in the previous 5 years. The Falcons had zero players named to the All-MAC Conference team, with a unit that went 3-deep at all positions.
Bowling Green might be the worst team in college football. They have 12 freshmen listed as starters and zero upperclassmen on the 2-deep. If this was a high school game, the clock would be running after halftime. The Vols should be padding stats by midway through the second quarter, and working out the kinks the rest of the way.
Prediction: Tennessee - 59 | Bowling Green - 10
Dylan Saylor (Senior Staff Writer):
It should be a no-brainer when it comes to picking Tennessee over Bowling Green, but with games like Georgia State (2019) still lingering in our heads, it’s not that simple. Tennessee is a heavy favorite at -35, and should cover the spread with Heupel’s new offense. One thing to watch out for is the secondary. Incoming transfers and senior-heavy leadership will make that position group fun to watch.
Prediction: Tennessee - 47 | Bowling Green - 10
Landon Hiter (Junior Staff Writer):
While it is easy to point out obvious advantages in recruiting and training facilities, Tennessee’s main advantage is in the trenches, on both sides of the ball. Bowling Green will be starting several sub-300lb lineman. Bowling Green had one of the absolute worst run defenses in the nation last season. The Falcons could certainly also have success on the ground behind their big play threat, Terion Stewart, but the Vols defense should be able to contain him for the most part, considering their lack of quality blockers, and explosive pass play potential. All this being said, it won’t mean anything if Tennessee fails to shut down their redshirt freshman quarterback, Drew Gunther. Gunther is making his first start, and while all signs point to the Vols dominating on both sides of the field, if we can’t shut him down, then we simply don’t deserve the win. All-in-all, Heupel and this year's team will face many challenges and adversities along the way, but if all goes according to plan, we should walk out of week one with a solid win and a nice confidence boost for the rest of the season.
Prediction: Tennessee - 51 | Bowling Green - 28