College Football Picks: Bet Alabama to Cover ATS vs. Tennessee

Willie Bee

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 1:02 AM GMT

The Crimson-hot Tide prepares for its oldest SEC rival this week when Alabama hosts Tennessee, and you're a click away from a preview and free college football pick.

If my preseason prognostications had been spot on, we'd be seeing a preview of the SEC Championship this Saturday when Tennessee travels to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. It turns out, however, that the Volunteers aren't as ready to move up a step and play as conference contenders as I first thought, while the Crimson Tide are playing like the perennial league favorites they were picked to be.

The old rivals get together for the 95th time with less hype about this matchup than Alabama's next opponent, a showdown with LSU in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, the specifics for this game include a 3:30 PM (ET) boot at Bryant-Denny Stadium, CBS having the honors of providing the telecast.

Opening college football odds had the Crimson Tide carrying an even two touchdown chalk before that quickly bounced up as many as two points. The spread has settled down to 15 at Bookmaker where the total is stuck at the opening 56 mark.

 

Vols Looking For 1st Win In Tuscaloosa Since '03
This series is Alabama's 2nd-closest conference rivalry for Alabama, the Tide holding a 49-38 edge over Tennessee with seven ties (.563 win pct). That's a few points higher than the 42-34-1 record vs. Auburn and includes matchups with at least 20 games in the series. Tennessee is also Alabama's longest-running rivalry with the schools meeting each year since 1927.

Alabama has come out on top the last eight meetings and covered six of the eight triumphs. This year's spread marks the 7th-straight year the Tide have been double-digit favorites, and the last three encounters were winners for everyone on the 'over.'

It was 12 years ago when the Volunteers last won this game on the road, and that dubya was engineered by Casey Clausen in an epic 51-43 decision that lasted into the fifth overtime. The win also completed a string of six games for the Vols in Alabama in which they won five and tied another.

 

'Bama Hitting On All Cylinders Right Now
For Tennessee (3-3 straight up, 3-2-1 against the spread), the end was really the beginning of the fourth quarter against Oklahoma in Week 2. Leading 17-3 with nine minutes to go, the Volunteers fell apart to finally lose the match in OT, 31-24. It would be the same two weeks later in a 28-27 loss to Florida followed by a 24-20 loss at home to Arkansas, a team Tennessee led 14-0 early.

Those losses made it even more unlikely that Tennessee would rally after trailing Georgia 24-3 at home a week ago, but the Volunteers did to win outright as small 2-point home pups.

Alabama (6-1 SU, 3-4 ATS) has rolled right through its last four games, two of the wins over then-top 10 teams, Georgia and Texas A&M. A lot of the heavy lifting has been provided by the Crimson Tide defense which capitalized on four turnovers a week ago at Kyle Field, two of them returned for scores in a 41-23 victory over Texas A&M.

 

Tennessee Excellent At Protecting The Pigskin
Just as I expected in that matchup, A&M's inability to run the ball against Alabama would help determine the outcome. The Tide will be facing a stronger rushing attack this week, so we shouldn't expect them to hold the 19th-ranked rushing attack in the country to 32 yards on 25 carries like they did in College Station last weekend.

I still don't see the Volunteers running wild on the 'Bama defense, and I'm not that sold on Joshua Dobbs being able to move the ball very well through the air against the Crimson Tide's stop unit as well. Neither team makes that many mistakes, Tennessee turning it over just five times so far.

There isn't anything in the weather forecast to suggest any trouble, just a muggy afternoon in Tuscaloosa where the thermometer should climb into the low-80s. I'm biting the bullet with my free college football pick and rolling on with the Tide.

College Football Picks: Alabama -15 at Bookmaker

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