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Sports news with a Vegas perspective.

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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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Tennessee at NC State Start Time, Odds and Free Pick

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The Tennessee Volunteers and their beleaguered head coach, Derek Dooley, open their 2012 schedule tonight against ACC dark horse North Carolina State at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. This evening's game, which has a scheduled start time of 7:30pm ET, will be broadcast live on ESPNU. Tennessee at NC State Odds have the Wolfpack listed as a -3 against the spread favorite in this evening’s SEC versus ACC showdown. The game total is set at 51.5 points.

Derek Dooley's time at Tennessee has not gone smoothly thus far with the Volunteers posting 6-7 and 5-7 records in his first two seasons on the job. Dooley, who came over after a brief but successful stint at Louisiana Tech, will have his best opportunity to get things turned around in 2012.

Tennessee returns 19 starters from last year’s 5-7 squad, including quarterback Tyler Bray, who showed signs of becoming an elite level passer last season. The Volunteers offense struggled against the SEC’s best defenses last year, totaling just 35 points against Georgia, LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas. With Bray and his top four receiving targets back on campus, Tennessee will have an opportunity to improve those numbers and, possibly, compete for an East Division title.

This evening could reveal, to a certain extent, any progress the Volunteers made in the off-season. North Carolina State got off to a lackluster start under Head Coach Tom O’Brien, piecing together a 16-21 record between 2007 and 2009, but the program has flown under the radar the last two seasons, producing a 17-9 mark while winning bowl games against West Virginia and Louisville.

Like Dooley, O’Brien welcomes back his field general as senior passer Mike Glennon re-assumes control of the offense. Glennon threw for over 3000 yards and 30 touchdowns last season while leading the Wolfpack to a modest 28.2 points per game.

Defensively NC State returns six starters and 16 letter-men, giving it an opportunity to improve on its 2012 totals (24.7 points per game allowed). The biggest question mark is at linebacker where the Wolfpack lost its two leading tacklers in Audie Cole and Terrell Manning.

Free Pick: While both of these offenses should be improved, tonight’s game figures to be a low scoring one. Tennessee will be operating without its leading receiver, Da’Rick Rogers (suspension), and NC State’s defensive line (i.e. Art Norman) should be able to pressure Bray on long passing downs (a situation which could occur with frequency given the Volunteers inability to rush the ball with any sort of consistency). The Wolfpack offense will also go through a feeling out process tonight as it attempts to deal with a Tennessee defense that could easily move in to the top 20 in terms of total yards allowed. Take the Under 51.5 tonight.

Tennessee at NC State Odds:

Tennessee Volunteers -3 (-115), Over 51.5 (-110), -155 (Moneyline)

NC State Wolfpack +3 (-105), Under 51.5 (-110), +135 (Moneyline)

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