Tennessee vs. Missouri Betting Odds & Pick: Week 4 Overreaction Creates Value on the Tigers (Saturday, Oct. 3)
Silas Walker/Getty Images. Pictured: Jarrett Guarantano
- Mizzou is coming off a double-digit loss, so catching 10.5 points on the road at Tennessee seems reasonable -- if you don't dig beneath the surface.
- Mike Calabrese explains how these odds are an overreaction to last week's results and how it's creating value on this spread.
- Hint: Take the Tigers to cover as double-digit road dogs against a Vols team struggling to keep its offense on the field.
Tennessee vs. Missouri Odds
|Tennessee Odds||+11 [BET NOW]|
|Missouri Odds||-11 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-420/+320 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||49 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 12 p.m. ET|
The Crimson Tide has a way of making teams look worse than they really are.
In the first half against Missouri last week, Alabama ran roughshod over the Tigers. Jaylen Waddle kicked off his Heisman campaign with a ridiculous contested catch and the Tide rolled to a 28-3 halftime lead, easily covering the 17.5-point first-half spread.
Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle made a *ridiculous* catch.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 26, 2020
But if the first half was about Alabama’s excellence, the second half belonged to Mizzou’s potential. The Tigers limited Nick Saban’s squad to just one touchdown and 99 total yards over the final 30 minutes, outscoring the Tide 16-10.
Meanwhile, Tennessee won its season opener, but I have concerns that the Volunteers’ performance indicates some structural issues with offense. Their offensive line was lauded as perhaps the best in the SEC over the offseason, but they were able to generate only 133 rushing yards on 33 attempts (4.0 yards per carry) in the opener.
Their secondary was also victimized by South Carolina wide receiver Shi Smith to the tune of 10 receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown. The 5-foot-10 senior was the Vols’ defensive focal point after shredding Tennessee for a line of 11/156/1 last season in Knoxville, yet the Orange and White let Smith haul in big catch after big catch this past Saturday.
South Carolina’s post-game win expectancy indicates that UT let an inferior opponent hang around and were bailed out by a special teams gaffe in the closing minutes.
Mizzou’s double-digit loss and Tennessee’s narrow win have clouded public perception, which means the current point spread has created an opening to take advantage of that.
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First-year coaches have not been performing well straight up or against the spread, but Eliah Drinkwitz was an exception last Saturday. The Tigers’ new leader notched just the second opening game ATS victory over Saban since Saban took over at Alabama and the first since 2014.
Drinkwitz also demonstrated down the stretch that he’s interested in the Tigers playing to the final whistle, evidenced by his use of two timeouts in the closing minute. That kind of information is difficult to glean from traditional sources, but I’ve certainly made a mental note that the Tigers won’t go down quietly as a big underdog.
Offensively, quarterback Shawn Robinson showcased a strong arm and escapability against a potentially dominant Alabama defense. But I won’t be reading any further into his performance because the Volunteers’ defense is a far cry from the Crimson Tide’s.
The mistake, in my opinion, would be to place any meaningful significance in Mizzou’s offensive performance last week. What I care about more is the fact that Drinkwitz’s offense at Appalachian State last season was incredibly explosive: The Mountaineers generated 22 plays of 40 or more yards (12th), which in turn led to App State averaging 38.8 points per game.
As Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt noted this week to the local media, “Coach Drinkwitz is very creative on offense. They spread the ball around, stretch you horizontally and vertically. Gotta find ways to create turnovers and hold them to field goals.” I don’t think that’s coach-speak to motivate his team — I genuinely believe that Missouri will pose problems for a Tennessee defense coming off a lackluster performance.
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While Tennessee will look to limit explosive plays against Mizzou, the Vols will need to first work on keeping their offense on the field after going 1-for-12 on third downs and 0-for-1 on fourth down last week — a new problem for a team that finished third in the SEC in third-down conversion rate just a year ago.
Had it not been for a gift-wrapped pick-six, those missed opportunities would have likely bitten UT on the road.
As I mentioned above, UT struggled to move the South Carolina defensive front and, as a result, the Vols’ running game underperformed. If Mizzou’s run defense against Alabama is any indication — the Tigers allowed only 111 yards, 3.3 yards per carry and zero runs of 20 or more yards — the sledding won’t get any easier this week.
Missouri’s defense also generated nine tackles for loss against Alabama, which will be of great concern to Jarrett Guarantano and the Vols’ backfield.
KEY PLAY: On the first 2020 edition of my weekly Monday afternoon feature, I take a deep dive into the Tre Williams sack and Nick Bolton fumble recovery during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Alabama.
Video courtesy of ESPN and Mizzou athletics. pic.twitter.com/FVyZhvvabn
— Eric Blum (@ByEricBlum) September 28, 2020
Without the services of Cade Mays, I would have serious doubts that Tennessee could avoid negative plays and consistently stay on schedule against the Missouri defense. The fact that Mays has now received clearance from the SEC and is scheduled to start for UT is the only factor that dissuaded me from a potential moneyline play on the Tigers — Mays is a significant difference maker and should make the UT offense more efficient, if not necessarily more explosive.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
My power rankings call for this game to be a 9-point spread in favor of the home team, but Tennessee is currently listed at -12.5 at most books. With 73% of early bets and 66% of all money currently on Tennessee (find real-time public betting data here), this point spread could float up to -13 or -13.5 before kickoff.
I’ll be playing Mizzou at any number north of 10.5 points.
Pick: Missouri +10.5 or better.