Tennessee Volunteers at Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Preview

The Third Saturday in October is one of the SEC, and all of college football’s, most heated rivalries. Alabama fans and Tennessee fans hate each other as much as normal human beings hate getting an apple in their trick-or-treat bags. 

The hate in this rivalry burns even hotter in Knoxville since Nick Saban joined the fold. Alabama has rattled off 15 straight wins over the Volunteers, and Saban has never lost in this rivalry in his time in Tuscaloosa. Let’s just keep the projectiles to a minimum this week, Vols fans.

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Tennessee Volunteers Team Preview

Josh Heupel is the latest in what has been a revolving door of coaches in Knoxville over the past 20 years. Tennessee had just three head coaches over a 38 years span leading up to 2008, but since Nick Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa, the Volunteers have seen six different coaches take up the post.

The Volunteers have made a bowl game just six times in the twelve years that accompany this span, so it’s easy to see why the natives are getting a little restless. 

Along with the coaching turmoil, this latest regime came into a situation that left the cupboard bare in terms of on-field talent.

The Volunteers top players all packed their bags and headed elsewhere, including All-SEC linebacker Henry To’oTo’o, who is now roaming the middle of the field for the Crimson Tide. Star running back Eric Gray and former five-star offensive tackle, Wanya Morris, took off for Norman, Oklahoma, leaving Heupel with a fresh slate. 

The transfer portal works both ways, though. Current quarterback Hendon Hooker came to the Vols by way of Virginia Tech and has played outstanding after taking over for Michigan transfer Joe Milton.

Hooker is sandwiched between Heisman favorites Bryce Young (+175 BetOnline) and Matt Corral (+200 BetOnline) for the highest quarterback rating in the SEC. His 14 interceptions to just one interception are tied with Corral for the best ratio in the league.

Hooker’s status for this game is up in the air after leaving the game last week with an injury.

Alabama Crimson Tide Team Preview

“They don’t rebuild; they reload.” A common phrase when talking about Alabama, and the #4 team in the country are doing just that this year after winning a title in 2020. Nick Saban’s team lost their 19 game winning streak against Texas A&M two weeks ago, but the coach believes that wake-up call is what the team needed to appreciate winning. Bad news for the remaining opponents on the Tide’s schedule. 

The offense hasn’t been nearly as explosive or efficient as last year, but when you lose five first-round draft picks on that side of the ball, it’s a hard act to follow. Bryce Young is doing his best to replicate it, though as the Sophomore leads the Heisman race at this stage in the season and has found a connection with Ohio State transfer wide receiver Jameson Williams. 

Defensively the Tide are led by sophomore Will Anderson Jr., who leads the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss. The outside linebacker has been vocal about his fellow defenders needing to refocus to try and reach their goal of a national championship, and the message seemed to sink in during the Tide’s 49-9 win over Mississippi State. 

Betting Preview

Looking at the betting odds, BetUS and Bovada have the line for this game set at -24.5, favoring Alabama with an over/under total points betting line of 66.5. The deciding factor in who covers in this game will be whether or not Hooker is able to play and play effectively.

If Hooker is healthy, the Volunteers should make this game somewhat competitive, but if Joe Milton is the starter, expect the Tide to name their score. With Hooker, the Vols cover and the over is in play; without him, take ‘Bama and the under. 

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