Tennessee vs Alabama Odds, Picks, Predictions: Your Saturday SEC Betting Preview

Tennessee vs Alabama Odds, Picks, Predictions: Your Saturday SEC Betting Preview article feature image

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.

Tennessee vs Alabama Odds

Saturday, Oct. 15
3:30 p.m. ET
Tennessee Odds
-110o / -110u
Alabama Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

A short 310 miles separate the campuses in Tuscaloosa and Knoxville, as a hot rivalry renews in what is known as the Third Saturday in October.

This series between Alabama and Tennessee has been dominated by Nick Saban since his hiring as head coach for the Crimson Tide. Meanwhile, the Volunteers haven't downed the Tide since 2006.

The hatred runs deep, dating long before former national champion coach Phillip Fulmer supplied the NCAA with information about violations within the Alabama program.

Fast forward to the present, where the Volunteers have one of the best offenses in the nation led by head coach Josh Heupel. At 21.3 seconds per play, Tennessee has the ability to move the chains on the ground or through the air at a rapid pace.

That pace worked against Heupel last season in Tuscaloosa, as Alabama dominated in a 52-24 rout. The Crimson Tide haven't been toppled by a pure tempo team since a second consecutive loss to Ole Miss in 2015.

If Tennessee upsets Georgia later in the season, this game could be a preview of the 2022 SEC Championship.

Tennessee Volunteers

Several questions surrounding Tennessee were answered after a bye week leading up to kickoff at LSU.

The Volunteers were without the services of offensive tackle Gerald Mincey and wide receiver Cedric Tillman. Tennessee suffered at the left tackle position with Jeremiah Crawford as the starter, but Mincey is expected to be back to bolster the trench.

Tillman represents the most explosive target on the team for quarterback Hendon Hooker. While Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton have filled in, only Jalin Hyatt averages more than two yards per route run outside of Tillman.

Hendon Hooker put this game to rest early. Vols are dominating ‼️ pic.twitter.com/sWrkjHNWek

— CFB SHARPS (@cfbsharps1) October 8, 2022

Running backs Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright dominated the LSU defense, combining for more than five yards per carry.

The ability to stay in standard downs has been key for Heupel, as the Volunteers stay in these situations at the fifth-highest rate nationally with the sixth-highest Success Rate.

While the offense has been rolling in standard downs, the defense has seen its ups and downs in recent games.

Tennessee improved its coverage grade after the LSU game and now ranks 118th, per PFF. With a benign pass rush and a below-average Havoc rating, the Volunteers defense has excelled at stopping the run and regressed against the pass.

A rank of 96th in Passing Downs Success Rate ensures opposing offenses rack up plenty of first downs. Tennessee sits 117th in opponent first downs through the air, which places the biggest handicap for this game on which quarterback starts for Alabama.

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Alabama Crimson Tide

Headlines around the country surround the health of Alabama quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young.

The sophomore took an awkward fall against Arkansas, resulting in an AC joint sprain that lingered through Week 7 preparations for Tennessee. A typical recovery period for this injury lasts two-to-four weeks, and kickoff against the Vols comes just 14 days after Young left the field against the Razorbacks.

Freshman backup Jalen Milroe took over duties under center last week, unleashing a bonanza of zone-read rushing attempts against a poor Texas A&M run defense.

Milroe struggled to protect the ball both on the ground and through the air. The Texas native fumbled twice and committed five turnover-worthy plays in the passing game.

No matter which direction Saban goes at the quarterback position, the Heisman winner could be limited in downfield passing, while the freshman backup has severe issues in Havoc Allowed.

The great news for the Crimson Tide is a defense that's peaking in the heart of the SEC schedule. Alabama ranks top-15 in nearly every advanced statistical category. No team has reached 375 total yards on this defense, including Texas and Arkansas.

Defensive coordinator Pete Golding has turned in his best effort yet in tackle grading, as Alabama ranks third nationally in that category while promoting a top-30 defense in explosiveness allowed.

Preseason Heisman dark horse Will Anderson has amped up his game of late, recording 10 pressures against Texas A&M's offensive line.

WILL ANDERSON IS A BEAST 😤😤 pic.twitter.com/1QvyC0AdY4

— Brian Y (@byysports) October 9, 2022

Tennessee vs Alabama Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Tennessee and Alabama match up statistically:

Alabama Offense vs. Tennessee Defense
Rush Success187
Line Yards2313
Pass Success4284
Pass Blocking**278
Finishing Drives197
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Tennessee Offense vs. Alabama Defense
Rush Success2112
Line Yards2111
Pass Success912
Pass Blocking**188
Finishing Drives1640
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling349
PFF Coverage12118
SP+ Special Teams2147
Seconds per Play25.8 (51)21.3 (6)
Rush Rate54.7% (60)58.4% (30)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Tennessee vs Alabama Betting Pick

Handicapping quarterback injuries can be a tireless event with no clear information until after kickoff. In Alabama's case, there's a clear sign of what the offense will look like depending on the signal caller.

If Milroe gets the start, it heavily favors a Tennessee defense that has been stout against the run. The Volunteers rank top-10 in Defensive Stuff Rate and Rushing Success Rate, holding LSU's zone read with Jayden Daniels to just 55 yards on the ground.

Although the Action Network projection on the total lies in the 70s with Young starting for Alabama, an under at 65 or better is the play if the Milroe ground attack takes over.

Even if Young is healthy enough to play this game, the downfield passing has question marks. Ja'Corey Brooks and Kobe Prentice are the only targets with more than two yards per route run, as the Tide's past explosive passing game has not been part of this 2022 squad's identity.

The best weapon for Bama has been Jahmyr Gibbs out of the backfield, bringing a negative number in average depth of target and relying on missed tackles from the defense.

The Action Network projection with Young is Alabama -10.

There are a number of advantages for the Tide outside of the quarterback concerns. Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry are two of the highest-graded secondary players, per PFF.

Meanwhile, both Anderson and Chris Braswell rank top-25 in pass rush productivity, while Tennessee trails in defensive grades in terms of coverage and generating pressure.

The execution plan is clear: Back an Alabama team that can get the ball to explosive targets with Young. But if Milroe takes his second start, look for an under at the key number of 65.

Pick: Alabama -7 (If Young Plays) · Under 65 (If Milroe Plays)

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