The Tennessee Volunteers have the hook they need to beat the NCAAF odds in Saturday’s SEC tilt with the Ole Miss Rebels.
Mississippi Rebels vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday, October 16, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at Neyland Stadium
If you go back and look at the college football picks I’ve made this year, you’ll see a pattern: Five of the six teams I chose were underdogs. This is not by accident. Underdogs generally have more betting value than favorites when you’re surfing the NCAAF lines at OddsTrader. Heading into Week 7 of the FBS campaign, the dogs are a combined 214-198-11 ATS. Why not just bet them every time? Because it’s not profitable. That ATS record works out to a 51.9-percent success rate, and you need to be right at least 52.4 percent of the time to overcome the standard –110 juice. Fortunately, you can often squeeze even more betting value onto your dogs when they’re priced a half-point above one of the “magic” numbers in football betting, with 3, 7 and 10 being the most magical. And as we go to press, BetMGM just happen to have the Tennessee Volunteers available at +3.5 for Saturday’s matchup with the No. 13 Ole Miss Rebels.
A Kind Of Magic
For those of you not yet familiar with the concept of magic numbers, this is something that applies specifically to football, where most of the scoring comes in chunks of three (field goals) and seven (touchdowns+PAT). Because of this dynamic, more college football games are won by three points than any other margin. Wizard of Odds ran the numbers and came up with the following frequencies:
- Three points: 9.63 percent
- Seven: 7.31
- Ten: 4.34
- Fourteen: 4.32
Seventeen: 3.96 Given these frequencies, it stands to reason that the extra half-point (also known as a “hook”) above three points is more valuable than when you’re dealing with all the other magic numbers. Dating back to 1995, teams priced at +3.5 on the NCAAF odds board are 376-360 ATS, or 51.1 percent. That’s up from 497-485-65 (50.6 percent) for teams priced at +3. Again, not enough to make a profit betting these dogs blindly, but that hook is definitely a big step in the right direction.
Getting above 52.4 percent is just a question of finding the right spots. At first blush, the Volunteers (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) aren’t the ideal team to bet at +3.5; they’ve been mostly unimpressive since Phillip Fullmer stepped down as head coach after the 2008 season. But they’re making good progress in Year One under Josh Heupel, the former All-American Oklahoma quarterback. Heupel led the UCF Knights to the 2019 Fiesta Bowl in his first year as a head coach. Can he do the same in Knoxville? Getting out of the SEC is probably too much to ask for, but heading into Saturday’s contest, Sports Reference have Tennessee at plus-12.54 this year using their Simple Rating System, slightly more than a point behind Ole Miss (4-1 SU, 2-2-1 ATS) at plus-13.76 SRS. If these numbers are right, giving the Vols a generic 2.5 points for home-field advantage, and another 3.5 on the spread, makes them too good to pass up.
NCAAF Pick: Tennessee +3.5 (–110) at BetMGM