As usual, the Alabama Crimson Tide are too chalky to be the right NCAAF pick this Saturday when they host the Tennessee Volunteers.
Tennessee Volunteers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
at Bryant-Denny Stadium
Why do the Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1 SU, 4-3 ATS) keep laying all these points? At press time, the defending champs are –25 favorites on the college football odds board at DraftKings, with the Tennessee Volunteers (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS) coming to Tuscaloosa this Saturday. To paraphrase their ad from a few years ago, that’s a shipload of points. Clearly the sharps think so, too. Alabama opened as 27.5-point home faves before getting squeezed in early betting; the consensus reports at OddsTrader show 68 percent support for Tennessee in this SEC matchup. Good work if you got the Vols at +27.5, but if you missed out, don’t worry – they might get those points back by kick-off, given all those ‘Bama fans who are itching to put their chosen team in their Week 8 college football picks.
Tennessee could even be worth betting at their current price. They might not be in the national rankings, but the Volunteers are No. 22 (No. 24 offense, No. 34 defense) on the latest F+ charts at Football Outsiders. They’ve done very well in Year One under head coach Josh Heupel, and they’ll be extra-salty this week after losing 31-26 to Ole Miss (–1.5 away), in a game where they almost beat their former head coach and Public Enemy No. 1 in Knoxville, Lane Kiffin. Of course, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has no problem wearing the black hat himself. Getting back to my original question, one of the reasons Alabama keep facing gigantic spreads is because Saban is quite happy to up the score if and when they take a big lead. Consider last week’s 49-9 win over Mississippi State (+17.5 away), where the Tide tacked on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns for good measure. Sporting? No, but then again, these winning margins count for something when it comes to getting a College Football Playoff invitation.
Keeping It Simple Unfortunately for Saban, the team he has on the field this year doesn’t quite measure up to seasons past. Sports Reference has them pegged at plus-18.99 using their Simple Rating System, which takes into account both point differentials and strength of schedule. That’s the lowest ranking of any ‘Bama team since 2010, when they posted a plus-18.31 SRS and had to settle for a trip to the Capital One Bowl. You can blame the SEC in part for those numbers. This conference has lost a bit of its polish, leaving the Tide with their softest schedule (thus far) since Saban took over the program in 2007. That will no doubt change as the games get more important, but this is no longer the alpha team on the college football odds board, falling to second place on the F+ charts (No. 2 offense, No. 9 defense) behind Georgia. Fade them for a small sum while they’re down – it might not last long.
NCAAF Pick: Tennessee +25.5 (-109) at SugarHouse