Classic Contrarian Bet When Tennessee Faces LSU

Jason Lake

Thursday, November 16, 2017 2:53 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 2:53 PM UTC

The Tennessee Volunteers may have fired head coach Butch Jones, but that only makes them a stronger college football pick for Saturday’s game against the LSU Tigers.

Free NCAAF Pick: Tennessee +16Best Line Offered: Bovada

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It feels so good to say we did well. The college football odds looked way too tight for last week’s game between the Fresno State Bulldogs and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, with the Frezzies laying 10 points as we went to press. So we took the UNDER instead. Final score: Bulldogs 31, Warriors 21 (UNDER 52.5). Self-high-five!

Next up: Saturday’s game (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Knoxville between the No. 20 LSU Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers. The Tigers are the overwhelming choice of early bettors, moving from –14 at the open to as high as –16; our consensus reports show LSU pulling in unanimous support before tailing off to 70 percent. Are they still the right team for our NCAAF picks? Or do the Vols get the nod now that the college football lines have moved two points in the other direction?

Does Not Compute

As we often do here at the ranch, we’ll consult our crack analytics team over at FiveThirtyEight. The Tigers (7-3 SU, 5-4-1 ATS) are being given the slimmest of chances to win the National Championship, so they’re on Nate Silver’s watch list, and his people have LSU winning Saturday’s game 73 percent of the time. That only translates to –7 according to Wizard of Odds. Curious.

ESPN’s Football Power Index thinks a little less highly of the Volunteers (4-6 SU, 3-7 ATS). They project LSU’s chances at 77.4 percent, but that’s still just –10.5 or so on the point spread. It’s quite possible that the betting public is overloading on the famous Tigers after four straight ATS wins. Or maybe there’s something else going on here... I wonder what it could be...

The Tennessee Waltz

Oh, yeah: Tennessee fired head coach Butch Jones on Sunday. Brady Hoke, their defensive line coach, will be under the headset for the last two games of the regular season. That’s a pretty big deal. And it could make the Vols an even better college football pick. FBS teams are 9-19 SU under interim coaches since 2012 inclusive, but they’re also 17-11 ATS.

They might be hot garbage on the football field, but we’re happy to recommend Tennessee for your football picks at their new price. It’s a classic contrarian bet, with the Vols only getting 30 percent support from the betting public, and the math works in their favor, too. This week, the color of money is UT Orange.

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