Tennessee vs. Alabama Betting Preview: Odds, Picks for This Prime-Time Matchup (Saturday, Oct. 23)

Tennessee vs. Alabama Betting Preview: Odds, Picks for This Prime-Time Matchup (Saturday, Oct. 23) article feature image
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Tennessee vs. Alabama Betting Odds

Saturday, Oct. 23
7 p.m. ET
ESPN
Tennessee Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+24.5
-105
68
-105o / -115u
+1600
Alabama Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-24.5
-115
68
-105o / -115u
-3800
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Welcome to the Third Saturday in October, even though the rivalry game isn’t being played on the third Saturday in October this season.

The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry has been dominated by the Crimson Tide for 14 seasons, as Tennessee hasn’t won it since 2006.

The Vols have only come within 10 points of the Crimson Tide twice in 14 years as well, and the bookmakers don’t think that Tennessee will be keeping this game close, either.

Alabama is a 25-point home favorite and there’s uncertainty with the quarterback situation at Tennessee after starter Hendon Hooker went out injured in the final minute of the Vols’ 31-26 loss to Ole Miss at home last Saturday.

Backup Joe Milton tried scrambling on the final play of the game from the 21-yard line down by five points and was pushed out of bounds before getting near the goal line. He may get the start in this one.

If Hooker is able to play though, the Tennessee offense does have some advantages against an Alabama defense that isn’t as good as it’s been in years past.

Alabama will score at will, but the Volunteers should be able to keep this game inside the number with a potential backdoor open late.


Tennessee Volunteers

The Tennessee handicap for this game begins with the status of Hooker, where reports are optimistic — but uncertain — about his chances to play.

If he doesn’t play, there’s not much faith in Milton playing given his inexperience. But Hooker has the potential to lead this Vols offense to some success against Alabama, even though they struggled against a much worse Ole Miss defense last week.

Hooker was able to practice a bit and is considered day-to-day by head coach Josh Heupel. His status is one that must be known before betting this game.

The Volunteers rank 10th in Rushing Success Rate and should be able to convert first downs on the ground in this game. Alabama isn’t as good in the trenches as years past, as Florida and Texas A&M showed when they were able to push around the Tide front.

Tennessee has showcased an ability to hit big plays too, another area where the Tide struggled against A&M and may have struggled even more against Florida had Anthony Richardson played in that game.

Alabama’s defense was excellent on third and fourth down in the games against Ole Miss and Mississippi State to keep points off the board, but both teams were able to move the ball consistently well. Ole Miss, especially, was a few 4th-and-short conversions from really turning that into a game.

Tennessee’s offense is 14th in big plays and its No. 1 weakness is pass blocking, an area that Alabama hasn’t been nearly as elite at exploiting compared to years past.

The Alabama secondary is still excellent, but Tennessee’s ability to shorten this game on the ground and use Hooker’s legs — if healthy — should lessen variance and lower the margin here.

Tennessee plays at the fastest pace in the country, but I do wonder if they’ll play a bit slower knowing the opponent in this game.


Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is one of the betting favorites for the Heisman this year, but he’s not quite matching the numbers and success that his predecessors Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones produced behind him.

For starters, Alabama’s downfield passing game hasn’t been nearly as good as it was in the past. It’s much more of a horizontal passing offense than a vertical one, especially focusing on short routes over the middle and screen passes to the outside.

Despite this, Tennessee’s pass defense is unlikely to offer much resistance. The Vols rank 58th in Passing Success Rate allowed and 98th in Big Plays allowed, both much lower than Alabama’s fourth-ranking in Passing Success Rate and 19th in Big Plays.

The Tide should be able to turn short throws into big gains because the Vols are just 77th in PFF’s tackling grade.

Alabama’s ability to score easily and quickly suggests it’ll be able to get margin, but the Tennessee defense is excellent at producing Havoc and it’s one area where the Vols could produce just enough pressure or negative plays from this Alabama offense to get off the field enough to stay within the 25-point margin.

The Volunteers’ run defense isn’t particularly overmatched here, either, so the Crimson Tide shouldn’t be able to just sit on the lead late and run out the clock as effectively.

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Tennessee vs. Alabama Matchup Analysis

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

Tennessee Offense vs. Alabama Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 10 47
Line Yards 17 6
Pass Success 51 73
Pass Blocking** 101 60
Big Play 14 49
Havoc 31 23
Finishing Drives 24 102
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Alabama Offense vs. Tennessee Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 46 46
Line Yards 40 63
Pass Success 4 58
Pass Blocking** 53 72
Big Play 19 98
Havoc 47 9
Finishing Drives 4 58
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 77 26
Coverage 46 18
Middle 8 67 8
SP+ Special Teams 19 20
Plays per Minute 1 97
Rush Rate 64.% (15) 52.5% (77)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Tennessee vs. Alabama Betting Pick

If Hooker plays in this game and can be effective, the Crimson Tide are overvalued. T

hey had a pretty fortunate cover against Ole Miss, snuck by a game with Florida as a two-touchdown favorite and lost to a Texas A&M offense that recently had scored 10 points against Colorado and 10 points against Arkansas just weeks before.

This Alabama team’s statistical profile isn’t nearly as dominant as those of teams of the past.

If Milton starts the game, it’s a stay-away, but as long as Hooker is playing, I’m playing Tennessee at 24 or better.

Pick: Tennessee +25 ( Play to +24 if Hooker plays)

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