Ball State at Tennessee: 9/1/22 College Football Picks and Prediction

Tennessee Volunteers (0-0) vs Ball State Cardinals (0-0)

Game Info: Thursday, September 1, 2022 at 7:00 pm (Neyland Stadium)

Betting Odds: Tennessee Volunteers -35.5 -- Over/Under: 68.5 Click Here for the Latest Odds

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The Ball State Cardinals and Tennessee Volunteers face off on Thursday in a Week 1 college football showdown at Neyland Stadium. 

The Ball State Cardinals finished the 2021 season with a 6-7 record overall and they went 4-4 in MAC games. The Cardinals hope they can get back to another bowl game this season, but the biggest question they have to answer, is do they have the answer under center. Drew Plitt was the starter last year, but he is gone and now John Paddack will be making his first-ever college start. Paddack has been with the team since 2018 but hasn’t thrown a touchdown. The top wide receiver is back is Jayshan Jackson and last season he finished with 829 yards. On defense, Ball State is going to need to try and put the pressure on with their defensive line.

On the other side of this matchup is the Volunteers who have high expectations heading into every season, but they don’t seem to live up to those. Josh Heupel is entering his second year in charge of Tennessee and there is a lot of buzz surrounding the team, especially with the offense. Last season the offense was strong averaging 39.3 points per game, and they have eight starters back on that side of the ball. Hendon Hooker is back under center after throwing for 2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns, and three interceptions. His top target in this game will be Cedric Tillman who caught 64 passes for 1081 yards and 12 touchdowns. On defense, last season Tennessee wasn’t great against the pass, but this is a game they should feel like they can find success against an inexperienced quarterback. 

Ball State is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games overall. The Volunteers are 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games against the MAC. The under is 4-1 in Ball State’s last five games in September. The under is 10-4 in Ball State’s last 14 non-conference games. 

I don’t love laying big numbers even in games that look to be mismatched, but this is one of those places I will do just that. Paddack is making his first start and he is going to be playing in a very difficult place to play. The Cardinals' offense is going to have issues moving the ball and that will be the difference as Tennessee is going to get the job done. Look for a big game from Hooker and Tennessee will cover the spread. 

Shane’s Pick Tennessee -35.5

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The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a PickDawgz site consensus.

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