Gamblers know where their bread is buttered — and won. The No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers have covered the point spread in seven of eight games, which is tied for the top mark in FBS. And the betting public is backing the Vols again in droves, as they visit the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs as a 9-point underdog.
Rocky Top is drawing a consensus 85% of the tickets across all sportsbooks.
“Tennessee will be our largest liability to this point of the college football season,” BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott told ESPN. On top of that, the action has been a steady flow all week, which is rare because the betting public typically does not wager until game day.
The Vols had similar support when they were 8.5-point home underdogs against No. 6 Alabama on Oct. 15 and delivered with an outright win.
“The whole world bet them against Bama, so why not come back with it? I get it,” SuperBook executive director and oddsmaker John Murray told ESPN. Based on my sources, sharp bettors have not yet weighed in, which is fairly common for marquee games.
Personally, I leaned to UT and the points against Bama, and I do again here. However, my favorite play is over 65. The conversation for this side and total is all about Georgia’s top-ranked defense, as that unit will likely dictate the outcome. I firmly believe we must recognize this defense is not as dominant as last year’s. They have a lower efficiency, allow 0.5 yards more per play and have a 5% less sack percentage. Additionally, they have only recorded 10 sacks, as opposed to 26 though eight games last year.
I believe that’s enough vulnerability for a Tennessee offense that is overwhelmingly awesome at times. Quarterback Hendon Hooker, who has accounted for 25 total touchdowns and just one interception, is now the Heisman Trophy betting favorite at +100. Plus, the Vols’ tempo is truly what makes this offense scary. They lead the nation with the fewest seconds between snaps, and I believe that will allow them to score enough points to cash this over. I also believe Georgia’s offense will do enough damage.
It’s extremely rare that an undefeated team from an elite conference and in the national championship discussion also delivers at the sportsbook window. Bettors usually have to pay too high of a tax, but the Vols are still 7-1 ATS. On Saturday, bookmakers find themselves in the rare position of rooting for the defending champs as a home favorite.
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This feels like a classic “sandwich spot” for North Carolina, which is coming off a big win over Pittsburgh and has Wake Forest on deck. In between those high-profile opponents is a Virginia squad that is as offensively challenged as any Power-5 school. The Cavaliers rank 102nd in offensive efficiency, but their 38th ranking in defensive efficiency also lends itself to the under. The Tar Heels have a top-five offense statistically, so we need them to have a lethargic and sluggish effort in this flat spot.
Pick: Under 60
The Horned Frogs have been extremely shaky and have needed strong second halves to remain undefeated. But I think we get a focused effort against Texas Tech. TCU is fresh off the first College Football Playoff rankings and should respond in a positive way. Statistically, the Red Raiders have a better defense than many realize, considering its 31st ranking in efficiency. But the Horned Frogs have an explosive offense that’s ranked sixth in efficiency, and I trust them to rise to this occasion with a convincing home win.
Pick: TCU -8
Brian Kelly will get his first taste of this rivalry with an electric atmosphere at Death Valley. However, the Tigers have demonstrated issues against elite offenses, and that’s exactly what Bama has with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Bryce Young. Tennessee was able to hang 40 points in a blowout win, and I expect the Tide to have similar success. Meanwhile, Alabama has shown some warts in road games, and I feel LSU will be able to generate enough offense. QB Jayden Daniels is showing a stronger command of Kelly’s offense, accounting for 11 touchdowns in the last two games. That’s incredible production. He will not post those types of numbers, but he should generate enough points.
Pick: Over 56.5