CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 27: Head coach Tom O'Brien of the North Carolina State Wolfpack celebrates with quarterback Mike Glennon #8 after defeating the Louisville Cardinals 31-24 at Bank of America Stadium on December 27, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Tennessee and N.C. State open the 2012 season Friday night. Follow @SBNationCFB
The Tennessee Volunteers and North Carolina State Wolfpack open the 2012 season Friday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in a matchup of two of the nation's most intriguing teams.
Tennessee enters the third year of the Derek Dooley era, and fans are demanding visible improvement. Dooley is 11-14 in his first two years with the Vols, and Tennessee's 1-7 mark in the SEC last season was the program's worst conference record since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1933. Quarterback Tyler Bray enters his third season as a starter, but will have to play the Wolfpack without star receiver Da'Rick Rogers, who was suspended indefinitely last week.
N.C. State enters the fifth season of the Tom O'Brien Experience. The team went 8-5 in 2011 with a win in the Belk Bowl over Louisville and returns seven starters on each side of the ball. One of those returning starters, quarterback Mike Glennon, threw 31 touchdowns last season and completed 62 percent of his pass attempts. The majority of a defense that forced 39 turnovers also returns.
Game time, TV channel: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Point spread: Tennessee -3.5
Video: Can the Vols surprise this year? Dan Rubenstein analyzes for SB Nation Studios:
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