Georgia vs Tennessee Odds & Picks: Our Best Bets for Marquee Matchup
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images & Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured from left: Georgia Bulldogs running back Kenny McIntosh (6) and Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5).
Georgia vs Tennessee Odds
-108o / -112u
-108o / -112u
By Dan Keegan
The focus of the college football world will be on Athens, Georgia, on Saturday, as Sanford Stadium hosts the “Game of the Century.”
It’s always a treat when the No. 1 and the No. 2 teams in the AP Poll square off in the regular season. This is only the fourth time this has happened since the turn of the century — Michigan vs. Ohio State in 2006 and a pair of Alabama vs. LSU contests in 2011 and 2019.
This is also the first-ever collision of the CFP’s No. 1 team against the No. 1 AP Poll team.
Georgia hosts this game at a crossroads. The stars of last year’s National Championship defense are gone, off to the NFL or sidelined with injury.
But Kirby Smart’s roster is loaded with blue-chippers, and it’s time for some new Georgia blood to have an impact against this Tennessee offense.
Its defense will be aided by a home crowd that promises to be electric. This is arguably the biggest game in Sanford’s storied history, and only the third time two top-five teams have clashed between the hedges.
Tennessee will look to write another chapter in its storybook season. The Vols test defenses like no other, with quarterback Hendon Hooker distributing dimes to game-breaking receivers in space.
Their scheme, their formations, their communication, their speed, their decision-making, their pace — it’s all clicking right now to stress the stout stop units of the southeast.
But their defense has been vulnerable this year. Their defensive front is ferocious, particular the pass rush, but the secondary can be had. Can Stetson Bennett, Brock Bowers, Ladd McConkey and the other members of the Georgia pass game keep up with this historic offense?
This promises to be a terrific clash of styles with the violence and physicality of Georgia seeking out the weaponized space creators of Tennessee. An instant classic is sure to unfold.
We know you’ll have eyes on this monumental contest, so we polled 10 of our college football experts to find the best angle for you to play. Plus, senior writer Collin Wilson broke down this marquee matchup and shared his top pick.
Georgia vs Tennessee Point Spread
Sometimes the angle to a game is hidden in plain view. But for this top-ranked matchup, look no further than Heisman frontrunner Hendon Hooker as the key differentiator in this game.
Hooker, a senior quarterback, is the nation’s second-ranked signal-caller in terms of QBR with a 191.6 rating. The electric gunslinger has already thrown for over 2,300 yards and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 21:1.
In his best performance of the season, a victory over Alabama, Hooker took over the game and picked apart the Alabama secondary, going 21-for-30 with 385 yards and five touchdowns.
In Hooker’s Heisman defining game against Alabama, the Volunteers were without their best wide receiver Cedric Tillman. After returning last week against Kentucky, Tillman will be fully available for the contest with the Bulldogs.
Hooker faces a Georgia defense that’s one of the best in the nation, but if one had to assign a weakness to the defensive unit, it would skew toward the pass defense. Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson threw for 271 yards against this Dawgs defense last week.
Georgia knows that Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel will come out with a fast-paced attack, but can they stop it?
Statistically, the Bulldogs rank second nationally in scoring defense (10.5), but they’ve shown instances of being flappable. Two weak performances against Kent State and Missouri do create some question marks about the Bulldogs’ ability to withstand the blistering attack of the uptempo Tennessee offense.
Additionally, it’s not clear that Georgia has been truly tested this season, with the 39th-ranked strength of schedule thus far.
The top-ranked Tennessee offense will undoubtedly be the toughest test of the season for Georgia. Tennessee has played one of the toughest schedules in the country to this point and has completely earned the coveted No. 1 spot from the College Football Playoff committee.
The Volunteers are one of the most uptempo offenses in the country, scoring 1.86 points per minute and will use pace to fluster the Georgia defense.
Grab the eight points on the road here and look for the explosive Tennessee offense to keep this game very close.
Staff Pick: Tennessee +8
Georgia vs Tennessee Over/Under
The market for the total between the elite Tennessee offense and the staunch Georgia defense has seen some large movement since opening at 60 and quickly running to 66.
In our midweek poll, the staff was evenly split on the total with half of the college football experts favoring a high-scoring affair and the other half leaning toward just enough defense to keep the total in check.
Using the Action Network’s PRO Projections, we’re assigning an “A-” rating to the over with a projection of 72.8, but a variation in game plan by either team could have a profound impact on the total. At this point, it’s fair to assume that Georgia will try to slow down the uptempo Tennessee offense with a heavy run game.
Sharp betting has run the total up to 66.5 from the opening 60 points. The public is currently holding the bag on the under with 61% of the money.
While the staff is split and we don’t have strong conviction one way or another, another way to approach this game is live betting the total.
Our staff clearly doesn’t think the risk-reward is there at 66.5, but that also indicates that the total has settled at a level that’s market-driven for the sportsbooks.
A seven-point swing in either direction of the total through the first 7.5 minutes of the game will present a solid entry point for total bettors.
If the first quarter is a little sleepy from a scoring standpoint, I’d recommend using the sharp’s 60 bogey as an entry point for the over.
Conversely, if there are some fireworks to start the game, look to jump on the under at 73.5 or higher.
This game presents an opportunity to be opportunistic as the game evolves. Operating within a range of 60 or lower for the over and 73.5 and higher for the under will present positive expected value outcomes.
Staff Pick: Coin-Flip
Tennessee TT Under 28.5
I’ll cut straight to it: this UGA team is going to do everything possible to keep the ball out of Hendon Hooker’s hands this Saturday. And this UGA offense is built for keep-away football, ranking first in Offensive Success Rate and well as 119th in Seconds Per Play.
If there’s a defense that can stop this Volunteers offense, it’s Georgia’s. This defense ranks fourth in Success Rate Allowed and second in Points per Opportunity Allowed.
Look for Georgia to milk the clock starting from the opening kick.
The best opportunity for this Bulldogs team to win is to keep the Tennessee offense off the field, so the Bulldogs will do what they do best: churn out yards, take time in between plays and keep Tennessee out of the end zone.
Pick: Tennessee TT Under 28.5
Tennessee ML +250
Hendon Hooker will be the key to winning this game. It’s cut and dry that if Hooker doesn’t have a great day against the top-ranked Georgia defense, the Volunteers will most likely lose.
Hooker will likely be able to play his way into covering the spread in this game, but for the Volunteers to win outright, the defense is going to need to step up in a complete team effort.
By complete team effort, I mean that the defense will have to stymie the defending champions just enough.
I have strong conviction that the defense is coming into its own and continuing to improve week over week.
After losing a lot of talent to the transfer portal last season, the Volunteers completely shut down the Kentucky offense last week in a convincing 44-6 victory. Tennessee held top quarterback prospect Will Levis to just 98 yards passing and forced three interceptions.
On the ground, the Volunteers front seven allowed just 133 yards.
This will have to be a complete effort to pick up the win on the road, but Tennessee has shown the ability to play at the highest level in the SEC, and there’s strong reason to believe it can emerge from Athens victorious after going blow-for-blow with Alabama a couple of weeks prior.
A Tennessee victory won’t require a dominating defensive performance, rather just enough resistance for Hooker to outscore the Bulldogs.
I see huge value on the No. 1 team in the country at +250 in this spot.