College Football Odds & Picks for Tennessee vs. Auburn: Saturday’s Betting Value on Tigers
Andrew Ferguson/Collegiate Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Jarrett Guarantano.
- Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee Volunteers will travel to Alabama to take on Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers on Saturday.
- The Vols' quarterback play has been somewhat concerning this season, but that has also been the case with Auburn's Bo Nix.
- Mike Ianniello breaks down how he's betting this game below.
Tennessee vs. Auburn Odds
|Tennessee Odds||+10.5 [BET NOW]|
|Auburn Odds||-10.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+320/-435 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||50.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
This week’s matchup with Auburn and Tennessee pairs together maybe the most optimistic, yet often disappointed fan bases in the entire country. Both teams consistently enter the season with higher expectations than they probably deserve and subsequently underachieve those expectations.
Auburn heads into Saturday with a 4-2 record, in large part due to a pair of questionable calls that resulted in miracle wins against Arkansas and Ole Miss. Tennessee is currently in a bit of a tailspin, dropping four straight games after a 2-0 start.
Both of these teams have had extended time off after not playing last week due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Tennessee last played Nov. 7 in a loss to Arkansas, and we haven’t seen Auburn since its blowout win over LSU on Oct. 31.
Both of these coaches find their chairs getting warmer this winter, as these two passionate fan bases grow more and more fed up. Somebody like Hugh Freeze could be very interested to see who loses this game.
Tennessee and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney seem to have one goal, and one goal only: establish the run. The Volunteers are averaging 40 rushing attempts against just 27 passing attempts per game this year.
In its last game against Arkansas, despite trailing by 11 points, Tennessee had 12 rushing attempts and 12 passing attempts in the fourth quarter. The Vols may not have scored a single point in the second half, but at least they had a balanced offense.
The biggest problem with relying so heavily on the running game for the Vols is that they really aren’t that good at it. Tennessee is averaging 3.6 yards per carry, which puts it 101st in the country.
Part of the need to rely on the rushing attack stems from the lack of faith in the quarterback position. Jarrett Guarantano has struggled this season, completing just 61.5% of his passes for 159.3 yards per game and turning the ball over eight times (three interceptions, five fumbles).
The Vols have had four different quarterbacks attempt a pass this season, all with little success. Harrison Bailey was a four-star recruit and is likely the most talented of the group, but he’s only a true freshman. It seems unlikely Jeremy Pruitt will turn to him full-time this quickly, but the fan base and local media in Tennessee is becoming very restless of Guarantano under center.
Overall, the Vols’ offense has been horrible by all metrics. It ranks 107th in the country in scoring, 108th in passing, 115th in total offense, 119th in explosiveness and 119th in Third-Down Success Rate.
On defense, it’s unfortunately much of the same for the Vols. The defense is 108th in the country in Success Rate and hasn’t found much success against the run (rank 95th) or the pass (rank 109th).
The one thing the Tennessee defense has done a decent job of is getting into the backfield. It has generated over 6.3 tackles for loss and 2.3 sacks per game. The Vols defense is able to generate their pressure from the linebacker position, led by inside linebacker Henry To’o To’o, who leads the SEC with seven tackles for loss.
Tennessee will need to get pressure on Bo Nix, who tends to get jittery in the pocket and forced into mistakes when under pressure.
I am personally not the biggest believer in Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. But there is no denying he is a completely different quarterback at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In his career, Nix has a 54.6% completion rate with an average of 180.7 yards per game and eight touchdowns and eight interceptions in road games. At home, Nix has completed 62.7% of his passes for 233.1 yards per game, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has more than twice as many rushing yards and rushing touchdowns when at home.
Helping Nix find success has been two future NFL wide receivers in Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz. Whatever Williams and Nix have been caught arguing about on the sideline doesn’t seem to be hurting them on the field, as Williams is averaging 18.3 yards per catch.
Similar to Tennessee, Auburn wants to be a run-first offense. In Auburn’s four wins this year, it has averaged 28 pass attempts and 40.5 rush attempts. In the two losses, it averaged 43.5 pass attempts and 29 rush attempts.
The difference with Tennessee is that Auburn has been able to find success running the football. Auburn ranks 25th in the nation in Rushing Success and second in the SEC in runs for 10+ yards.
True freshman running back Tank Bigsby has broken onto the scene and runs like, well, a tank. Good luck bringing down Bigsby with one guy. He has forced a missed tackle on 35% of his carries this season and is averaging 6.2 yards per rush over the last four games.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers lost four top starters to the NFL draft and have definitely taken a step back this season. But they still have talent in a lot of places and held LSU to just 11 points in its last game.
All-SEC selections DL Big Kat Bryant and LB K.J. Britt (still out) have both battled injuries this season, but the Tigers have still been able to rank fourth in the SEC against the run, allowing 3.7 yards per carry.
It’s kind of difficult to tell whether or not Auburn is good against the pass this year or not. The Tigers rank 65th in the country in passing defense, but that is good enough for third in the SEC.
Safety Jamien Sherwood is expected to be back this week, and cornerback Roger McCreary has emerged as maybe Auburn’s best defender and one of the best corners in the SEC. McCreary has two big interceptions in the end zone this year to take scores away from the opponents, and in the last two games, he has shut down two of the best receivers in the country. He held Ole Miss star Elijah Moore to just 16 yards and LSU’s Terrace Marshall to 28.
If McCreary is following Tennessee’s only reliable wideout Josh Palmer around all day, it could be a very long day for an already struggling Vols passing game.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Just in case you skip down and only read this final paragraph, I will repeat these key stats for you: In his career, Nix owns a 54.6% completion rate, averages 180.7 yards per game with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions in road games. He has completed 62.7% of his passes for 233.1 yards per game, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions in home games. Saturday’s game is at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Running back Tank Bigsby has quickly emerged as one of the hardest running backs to tackle in the country and is facing a Tennessee defense that ranks 109th in Success Rate and really struggled to tackle.
Tennessee has one of the worst offenses in all of college football, ranking 115th in total offense, and if Nix continues his home cooking, the Vols just can’t successfully throw the ball consistently enough to keep up.
Pick: Auburn -10.5 (up to -13)