Cleat Geeks

Battle at Bristol -Tennessee vs Virginia Tech

The stage is set for the biggest event in college football history. No. 17 Tennessee and Virginia Tech will meet in the “Battle at Bristol” at Bristol Motor Speedway for the first football game ever played inside a NASCAR track. This historic venue holds 153,000 fans, which will be the most attended for any college football game and has been dubbed “College Football’s Biggest Ever.”

Although this match-up has been in the works for about three years, the people at Bristol only had 19 days to complete the transformation from motor speedway to football field. The speedway was last used on Aug. 20 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The Executive Vice President and General Manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, Jerry Caldwell told SB Nation the following in regards to getting it ready:

Every minute of every day for those 19 days will be choreographed. We have to move all the tractor trailers out, we have to raise our infield almost three and a half feet. We’ll bring in 450 dump truck loads of material to do that, and then put the field on top of it. At the same time, start building grandstands on the front stretch and the back stretch — we will add grandstands in the end zones, we will start converting some of the buildings in the infield into locker rooms.

Will everyone there have a great view? No. Even with the custom-built 4-sided suspension screen where each side of the display is approximately 30 feet tall and 63 feet wide, the people in the nosebleeds will probably struggle to see (without binoculars).

The intrigue doesn’t just lie in the venue. Both Tennessee and Virginia Tech opened last week against weaker opponents, however, Tennessee was the one that struggled. They had a fourth quarter comeback with a push for overtime to escape with a home win over Appalachian State. After the second quarter, Virginia Tech pulled away and never looked back against Liberty.

This week, both teams are looking to make a statement with a win. Virginia Tech and new head coach Justin Fuente know this isn’t the most talented team, but they have some playmakers and want to prove their offense can be successful against quality opponents. Tennessee is looking to shake off an ugly win and prove they aren’t overrated again this year.

Prediction: Virginia Tech +11.5. It’s possible with the hype and spectacle surrounding this game that both teams come out looking flat and the first quarter or so is a little sloppy. Also Tennessee still has some offensive line issues to sort through, as they had problems with App State’s defensive front. Tennessee ran for only 3.0 yards per carry and gave up two sacks. However, the Vols should be able to come away with the win but the Hokies will keep it within two scores.

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