- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Appalachian State (11-2 last season) at No. 9 Tennessee (9-4)

Line: Tennessee by 20.

Series Record: First meeting.


Both teams are trying to build on the momentum they established late last season. Tennessee ended the 2015 season on a six-game winning streak, including a 45-6 Outback Bowl blowout of Northwestern. Appalachian State, which beat Ohio 31-29 in the Camellia Bowl, won its final four games and 10 of its last 11.


Appalachian State offensive line vs. Tennessee defensive line: Appalachian State returns three starters from an offensive line that allowed only 11 sacks last season. Air Force, Toledo, Georgia Southern and Ball State were the only Football Bowl Subdivision teams that yielded fewer sacks. But that group will have its hands full protecting Appalachian State QB Taylor Lamb from a deep Tennessee defensive front that features DE Derek Barnett, who recorded 10 sacks each of the last two seasons.


Appalachian State: RB Marcus Cox rushed for 1,423 yards last season, including a 103-yard performance against Clemson. His 4,088 career yards rushing rank him second among all active FBS players, behind only San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey.

Tennessee: RB Jalen Hurd ran for 1,288 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. The junior is 891 yards shy of the Tennessee career rushing record owned by Travis Henry, who ran for 3,078 yards from 1997-2000. Hurd’s 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame makes it difficult for one man to bring him down.


This marks Tennessee’s first Thursday night regular-season game since a 41-3 victory over Mississippi in Memphis, Tennessee, on Oct. 3, 1996. The Vols haven’t played a Thursday home game since a 46-0 shutout of Kentucky on Thanksgiving Day in 1938. … Tennessee has its highest Top 25 position since being ranked eighth on Oct. 29, 2006. … Appalachian State has won 17 of its last 19 games. … Tennessee will be wearing helmet stickers honoring former Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt, who died June 28 at the age of 64.


AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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