There is an SEC matchup between two teams that have been disappointing to this point, and the underdogs from Arkansas could hold value visiting Tennessee at Knoxville.
The underdogs could have inherent value in an SEC matchup between two disappointing teams Saturday night when the Arkansas Razorbacks (1-3, 1-3 ATS) try to end a three-game losing streak as they pay a visit to the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 2-2 ATS) at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Arkansas as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +6½ with odds of -106.
Best Game of the Year in Defeat?
Arkansas was a seemingly popular preseason pick to upset the SEC West and maybe even crash the College Football playoff before the season, as the Razorbacks returned nine starters on an offense that had one of the best backfields in the country last year and six starters on the defensive front seven.
Things have not gone as planned though with Arkansas losing three straight games since an opening win vs. UTEP, although the Hogs might be coming off of their best performance of the year, even if it was in defeat in a 28-21 overtime loss to Texas A&M at home last week.
Tennessee was also considered a program on the rise entering this season, but it has been the losing college football pick in both chances to make an early statement this year while blowing leads on both occasions, first in a 31-24 overtime loss at home to nationally ranked Oklahoma back in Week 2 and then in a 28-27 loss on the road to the Florida Gators in Gainesville last week.
Good Chance to End ATS Skid
Besides losing the last three games straight up including a shocking 16-12 home loss to Toledo, Arkansas has also officially failed to cover those last three games, although we had the good fortune to get a ‘push’ last week, grabbing an early number of +7 before the Razorbacks closes as six-point dogs. Regardless, they put forth a very nice effort, especially the beleaguered defense, and a repeat performance should cover this number and maybe produce an upset.
Remember that Texas A&M is now a 4-0 nationally ranked team and Arkansas was skidding badly entering that matchup last week, following the unexpected loss to Toledo with another home loss to Texas Tech in a game where the Razorbacks allowed 486 yards defensively. However, it turns out that Texas Tech is a very good team that by rights should have beaten TCU last week, and Arkansas responded by “holding” Texas A&M to 423 total yards.
Yes, we know that does not sound like much, but that was actually a season-low yardage total for an Aggies’ team averaging 471.5 yards per game, and Arkansas allowing only 21 points during regulation time may have been an even better feat with A&M averaging 41.5 points per contest.
The Hogs would gladly take a similar defensive performance here as the offense is currently 32nd in the country in total offense, in fact tied with Texas A&M at 471.5 points per game. The Razorbacks just need to finish drives better as they are averaging a pedestrian 26.2 points despite all of those yards. And they just might do so here vs. a Tennessee team ranked 77th in total defense and 70th in scoring defense.
Can Volunteers Hold a Lead?
The good news is that Tennessee is within one overtime loss plus a one-point loss of being 4-0. The bad news as that those defeats game in the only two real tests for the Volunteers, as their wins were 59-30 over Bowling Green out of the MAC and 55-10 over Western Carolina of the FCS. Arkansas is closer in talent level to the two teams that beat Tennessee despite the 1-3 record, and the way the Vols lost those games does not exude confidence as a decided favorite.
First, they had a 17-3 lead in the fourth quarter of Week 2 vs. Oklahoma before the Sooners scored the tying touchdown to force overtime with just 40 seconds left in regulation time. Then, last week in Gainesville, Tennessee had the Gators on the ropes with leads of 20-7 and 27-14 before allowing two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the game for the losing 28-27 outcome!
That lack of finishing power is a concern that always leaves open the possibility of a late Arkansas backdoor cover at the very least, but this could also be a worse outcome on the field for the Volunteers if they take the 1-3 Razorbacks too lightly.
Nice Head-to-Head ATS Run
Finally, Arkansas is 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head meetings vs. Tennessee overall. Arkansas is also 7-1 ATS in its last eight games after rushing for more than 200 yards in its previous game, while Tennessee is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games vs. teams with losing records.
We feel that losing record for Arkansas is rather deceptive here though with the talent levels of these teams not varying that much, so we recommend taking the points with the Razorbacks in a very possible upset when they visit Tennessee on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Arkansas +6½ (-106)