Volunteers trying to avoid getting caught up in excitement of 'Bristol' game vs. Virginia Tech

Volunteers trying to avoid getting caught up in excitement of 'Bristol' game vs. Virginia Tech

BY KEVIN CONNELL (@_KevinConnell)

Tennessee and Virginia Tech play in one of college football’s marquee September matchups, so understandably it remains a heavy point of discussion even months before kickoff.

During their scheduled appearance at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. on Tuesday, some of the Volunteers’ representatives were asked about the Sept. 10 game at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones said preparations for the game known as “Battle at Bristol” are going smoothly.

“Our administrative staff led by Chris Spognardi has done a great job,” Jones said. “They are up there almost every week working with the representatives from Bristol Motor Speedway. They've done a good job taking our input. It is a home game for us, all of the logistics that go into it.


“The most amazing thing today I think is the scoreboard that's already been placed over the track. It's something that if you haven't seen, go online and read about it, because it's magnificent. But it will be different. Everything is about communication and the sight lines with everything. So, again, where the coaches' booth is, all of that communication part of it, I think it will be a challenge. But this has been a number of years in the making, and there's a lot of people doing their due diligence behind the scenes.”

Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, though, would rather divert his attention to the Volunteers’ season opener against Appalachian State on Sept. 1 than the unusual game atmosphere in Week 2.

“The Battle at Bristol game we try not to get caught up on the experience, the hype, the stadium, stage, and number of people that are going to be there,” Reeves-Maybin said. “We focus on each other, focus on grinding, and don't focus on all the outside things.”

The game, the first ever at the venue, already has sold out all 150,000 seats, which will break an NCAA single-game attendance record. Michigan-Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2013 at Michigan Stadium had 115,109 fans.

Bristol Motor Speedway is located roughly halfway between Tennessee and Virginia Tech on the Tennessee-Virginia border. The track is 110 miles from Tennessee’s Knoxville campus and 131 miles from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. Virginia Tech hosts Liberty in its season opener on Sept. 3, while Tennessee plays Appalachian State on a rare Thursday night game on Sept. 1.

Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning and former Virginia Tech defensive end Bruce Smith will be participating in the game’s pregame coin toss.


Virginia Tech holds off upset-minded Chattanooga at home

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Virginia Tech holds off upset-minded Chattanooga at home

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Nahiem Alleyne scored a career-high 22 points to lift Virginia Tech to a 63-58 victory over Chattanooga on Wednesday.

Alleyne hit 7 of 13 from the field, including three 3-pointers for the cold-shooting Hokies (7-3), who survived a scare and snapped a three-game losing streak. Landers Nolley II added 19 points for Virginia Tech.

Stefan Kenic led Chattanooga (6-5) with 16 points.

The Mocs led 51-47 after a 3-pointer by David Jean-Baptiste with 5:23 remaining, but the Hokies answered by scoring on six of their next seven possessions. Alleyne started a 14-2 run that enabled Virginia Tech to build a 61-53 lead and pull away on a night when it shot just 39% (23 of 59) from the field.

Chattanooga cut the deficit to 61-58 on a 3-pointer by Jonathan Scott with seven seconds left, but Alleyne answered two free throws to seal it.


Watkins, Stevens lead Penn State over No. 4 Maryland

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Watkins, Stevens lead Penn State over No. 4 Maryland

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State became the fifth unranked team to beat a top-5 program in this upset-filled college basketball season, getting 15 points and 11 rebounds from Mike Watkins in a 76-69 win over No. 4 Maryland on Tuesday night.

Lamar Stevens added 15 points and 10 rebounds, Myreon Jones and Izaiah Brockington each scored 14 points, and Myles Dread had 12 points for the Nittany Lions (8-2, 1-1 Big Ten), who led for all but 1:54.

Jalen Smith had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (10-1, 1-1), who were trying for their first 11-0 start since 1996.

Eric Ayala scored 15, Anthony Cowan Jr. had 14, Aaron Wiggins had 13 and Serrel Smith added 12 for the Terps, who trailed 40-30 at halftime.

Penn State's win was followed minutes later by another unranked team knocking off an unbeaten opponent -- Texas Tech over No. 1 Louisville at Madison Square Garden.

The Nittany Lions led by as many as 10 with 15:19 to play, but the Terps used an 11-3 run capped by a 3-pointer from Cowan to cut the deficit to 52-50 with 10:57 left.

They wouldn't get any closer, and Penn State won its first game against a top-5 team since Feb. 17, 2016, when the Nittany Lions knocked off then-No. 4 Iowa.

Penn State leaned on its defense to build its first-half lead.

The Nittany Lions forced 12 turnovers in the first 10 minutes and used most of them to fuel an 18-5 run. Dread capped the sequence with a 3-pointer that made it 27-15.

Maryland slowed the pace with a pair of jumpers before Cowan hit a 3 that cut Penn State's lead to five. The Nittany Lions closed the half with a 13-8 run, capped by a buzzer-beating 3 from Jones.


Maryland: The Terps fell behind early for a second straight game, but it didn't work out as well against a bigger, more skilled opponent. Maryland also spotted Illinois a big lead on Saturday before rallying.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions have beaten top teams at home in the Patrick Chambers era, but those wins have usually come late in the season.


Maryland visits No. 22 Seton Hall on Dec. 19

Penn State hosts Alabama on Saturday.