Players know where their bread is buttered – and won. Tennessee’s No. 1 volunteers have covered the point spread in seven of eight games, which is tied for the highest rating in FBS. And the betting public is once again backing the Mass Robbers, as they visit the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs as a 9-point underdog.
Rocky Top draws a consensus of 85% of tickets across all sportsbooks.
“Tennessee will be our biggest liability at this point in the college football season,” Jason Scott, BetMGM’s vice president of commerce, told ESPN. On top of that, the action was steady all week, which is rare as the betting public usually doesn’t bet until game day.
The Vols had similar support when they were 8.5-point home underdogs to No. 6 Alabama on Oct. 15 and picked up an outright win.
“The whole world bet them against Bama, so why not come back with that? I get it,” executive director and SuperBook bettor John Murray told ESPN. According to my sources, savvy bettors haven’t weighed in yet, which is pretty common for branded games.
Personally, I leaned towards UT and the points against Bama, and I start again here. However, my favorite game is over 65 years old. The conversation for this side and the total is about Georgia’s top-ranked defense, as that unit will likely dictate the outcome. I strongly believe that we have to recognize that this defense is not as dominant as last year. They have lower efficiency, allow 0.5 yards more per game, and have a 5% lower bag percentage. Moreover, they only recorded 10 sacks, compared to 26 but eight games last year.
I think that’s enough vulnerability for a Tennessee attack that is extremely impressive at times. Quarterback Hendon Hooker, who had 25 total touchdowns and just one interception, is now the Heisman Trophy betting favorite at +100. Plus, the tempo of the Vols is really what makes this offense scary. They lead the nation in the fewest seconds between snaps, and I think that will allow them to score enough points to cash in on that. I also believe Georgia’s attack will do enough damage.
It is extremely rare that an undefeated team from an elite conference and in the national championship discussion also delivers to the sports betting window. Bettors usually have to pay too high a tax, but Vols are still 7-1 ATS. On Saturday, the bookmakers find themselves in the rare position of backing the defending champions as home favourites.
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No. 17 North Carolina Tar Heels (-7, 60) at Virginia Cavaliers
It looks like a classic “sandwich” for North Carolina, which is coming off a big win over Pittsburgh and has Wake Forest on deck. Between these high-level opponents is a Virginia team that is as challenged offensively as any Power-5 school. The Cavaliers rank 102nd in offensive efficiency, but their 38th rank in defensive efficiency also lends itself to under bets. The Tar Heels have a top-five offense statistically, so we need them to have a lethargic, slow effort in this dish.
Choose: Under 60
Texas Tech Red Raiders at No. 7 TCU Horned Frogs (-8, 69)
The Horned Frogs were extremely frail and needed strong second halves to stay unbeaten. But I think we’re getting a focused effort against Texas Tech. TCU is fresh out of the first college football playoff standings and should respond positively. Statistically, the Red Raiders have a better defense than many realize, given their 31st-ranked efficiency rating. But the Horned Frogs have an explosive offense ranked sixth in efficiency, and I trust them to rise to the occasion with a convincing home win.
No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide (-13.5, 56.5) at No. 10 LSU Tigers
Brian Kelly will taste this rivalry for the first time with an electric atmosphere in Death Valley. However, the Tigers have demonstrated issues against elite offenses, and that’s exactly what Bama has with defending Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Bryce Young. Tennessee managed to snag 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 think LSU will be able to generate enough offense. QB Jayden Daniels is showing better command of Kelly’s offense, accounting for 11 touchdowns over the last two games. It’s an incredible production. It won’t release those types of numbers, but it should generate enough points.
Choose: Over 56.5
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