College Football Odds & Picks for Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt: Betting Value on Saturday’s Over/Under
Andrew Ferguson/Collegiate Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Eric Gray.
- An in-state rivalry is renewed between two struggling programs as Tennessee takes on Vanderbilt in Nashville.
- The Commodores’ offense is among the worst in college football, and they have already had head coach Derek Mason fired this season.
- Patrick Strollo explains how he’s betting this game, with an eye on the game total.
Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt Odds
|Tennessee Odds||-14.5 [BET NOW]|
|Vanderbilt Odds||+14.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-670 / +460 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||40 [BET NOW]|
|Time||4 p.m. ET|
The Vanderbilt Commodores (0-8) host the Tennessee Volunteers (2-6) in a cross-state rivalry game that will mark the 115th meeting between the two programs. The series began in 1892 and has been played annually since 1946, with the Vols leading the series, 76-33-5. Tennessee defeated Vandy, 28-10, in 2019 but lost the three previous encounters.
Tennessee fell to Florida, 31-19, last weekend, but the Vols squeezed in a backdoor cover with a late touchdown. Florida Heisman contender Kyle Trask proved to be too much for a Vols defense that had a solid showing despite the loss.
Vanderbilt didn’t play last weekend after its game with Georgia was canceled due to COVID-19 issues with the Commodores roster. Prior to the cancellation, Vanderbilt was shutout by Missouri, 41-0.
In case you’ve been on the Appalachian Trail for an extended period of time or are new to the internet, you should know that Vandy started senior kicker Sarah Fuller against Missouri, and she subsequently became the first female to play in a Power Five football game.
Tennessee is 2-5-1 against the spread (ATS), and six of its games have stayed under the total. Surprisingly, Vanderbilt has been more balanced, going 4-4 ATS with five contests going under.
After starting the season with two wins, the Volunteers have dropped six straight. Offensively, the Vols haven’t been able to establish any consistency or rapport at quarterback.
Tennessee played three different quarterbacks last Saturday against Florida. After the game, head coach Jeremy Pruitt said that freshman Harrison Bailey and redshirt sophomore J.T. Shrout will be splitting reps going forward. This is a big departure from redshirt senior Jarrett Guarantano, who was the starting quarterback for the season opener.
Offensively, Tennessee is ranked 105th in FBS in total offense out of 127 teams and averages 338.6 yards per game. Reflecting the poor total offense metrics, the Vols have a Predicted Points Added (PPA) per play of 0.08, which ranks them 103rd in FBS.
On a better note, they allow offensive Havoc on 16.4% percent of plays, ranking in the top 50% of teams in FBS. Their passing offense ranks 101st in the nation, right behind UAB. The Vols are looking to shake things up on offense with a dual-quarterback system against a vulnerable Vanderbilt defense.
Things have been better on the other side of the ball for the Volunteers as evidenced by allowing only 31 points against the potent Florida offense last weekend.
Sophomore LB Henry To’o To’o has been excellent this season, registering 53 total tackles season to date. The Vols will look to have another strong defensive outing against an equally lackluster Vandy offense.
Tennessee ranks 67th in FBS total defense, allowing 410.6 yards per game. It holds a defensive PPA per play of 0.21, which puts it in 86th in all of FBS. The Vols have a tough time generating Havoc against opposing offenses, ranking in the bottom 50% of teams in FBS.
The Vols create Havoc situations on 16% of plays, which speaks to the discrepancy between ranking in total offense and defensive PPA.
Vanderbilt comes into the game as one of the FBS teams with the longest-running battles against COVID-19.
I don’t want to make excuses for Vandy, but the pandemic has made a difficult conference schedule even more treacherous for the Commodores. Vanderbilt certainly doesn’t need any more headwinds in the SEC East.
Former head coach Derek Mason was let go after the blowout loss to Missouri. Offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and interim head coach Todd Fitch will look to spice things in the game plan for his first game. True freshman QB Ken Seals has seen his stock rise as the season has progressed. Look for Fitch to rely on him heavily against the Vols.
The Vandy offense has been just as underwhelming as Tennessee’s, ranking 108th in FBS total offense. The Commodores own an offensive PPA per play of just 0.03, which is simply not good and ranks 115th in FBS.
Why does Vandy score so little on a per play basis? It allows Havoc on 21% of plays which ranks 116th, meaning there are only 11 teams that are worse in this metric in FBS.
I think there’s a silver lining here, though. Vanderbilt has gotten better as the season has gone on. It has been ravaged by COVID-19. And the Commodores started a true freshman QB all season in the SEC. Recent Commodore performances have shown improvement from earlier in the year.
On the opposite side of the ball, though, Vanderbilt has actually been worse. It ranks 121st in FBS total defense, giving up 480.9 yards per game. The Commodores allow 0.36 PPA per play defensively, which is 122nd in the country, and they generate Havoc on only 14.4% of plays, good for 97th in the country.
Any way you look at it, this defense is bad, Vandy will have to score to hang with Tennessee in this one. Even with Tennessee tinkering with a dual-quarterback attack, it shouldn’t have issues scoring.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Both teams head into this game looking to save some face as the season starts to wind down. It’s hard to find a compelling argument for either team offensively. The Tennessee defense is better than Vanderbilt’s, but that’s nothing to write home about.
My model finds value in Vanderbilt at +15.5 and the total at 50. Given that both defenses are so poor, I think the right play is to take the over. I think Vandy will likely have a renewed scoring focus under offensive-minded interim head coach Fitch.
Tennessee will look to figure out who the quarterback of the future is. If you are inclined to bet the spread, I would take the points with Vandy.
Pick: Over 50.