College Football Picks: Georgia vs. Tennessee

Willie Bee

Thursday, October 3, 2013 2:38 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 2:38 PM GMT

Fresh off a big win over LSU, the Georgia Bulldogs head to Knoxville to tackle the Tennessee Volunteers. Game analysis and a free pick are just a click away. Let's check out the betting odds.

Pocket knives are among the list of items not allowed in Neyland Stadium, home to the Tennessee Volunteers. Having been to Knoxville on several occasions and observed any man worth his salt carrying a pocket knife, I can only assume this restriction is to keep Tennessee fans from cutting their own throats in case Aaron Murray and the Georgia Bulldogs run roughshod over the Volunteers this week.

The Dawgs and Vols are set for their 43rd meeting Saturday afternoon when 100,000+ are expected to file into Neyland Stadium. Millions more will observe the 3:30 PM (ET) boot on CBS with Verne 'How Do You Do?' Lundquist behind the mic. SBR's live college football odds suggest Georgia will not run roughshod over Tennessee, but the Bulldogs are expected to enjoy a relatively easy win as 10-point favorites.

Saturday's total is 63.5 after starting a half-point higher at most college football betting outlets.

Bulldogs Hit Road After Big Win

The toughest part of Georgia's schedule is over, and while head coach March Richt would prefer to be 4-0 at this point as opposed to 3-1, he's got to be pleased with his two SEC wins so far over what were 6th-ranked foes when the Bulldogs faced them. The latest came last week in a thrilling 44-41 victory over LSU. Getting his squad to forget that one and avoid a letdown Saturday in Knoxville is a big part of this week's preparations for Richt and his staff.

Another part of the preparations is shoring up a defense that ranks in the second half of the nation allowing over 400 yards per game. Granted, the Bulldogs have faced three pretty good quarterbacks thus far in Clemson's Tajh Boyd, South Carolina's Connor Shaw and LSU's Zach Mettenberger, but the stop unit is going to have to improve if the Bulldogs are intent on making the SEC Championship Game and possibly a BCS bowl bid.

Of course, when you have a QB like Murray, it wouldn't take much improvement to realize those aspirations. The senior fell two yards shy last week of his fourth consecutive 300-yard performance of 2013, and enters Saturday's tilt fourth in the country with a 191.1 rating.

Murray and his offense could be without stud tailback Todd Gurley, listed as questionable after injuring his left ankle in the victory vs. LSU. Georgia does have a competent replacement in Keith Marshall, who ran for 96 yards after Gurley was injured, plus talented true freshman JJ Green should see more action if Gurley can't play or Marshall is ineffective.

Vols Begin Tough 3-Game Stretch Vs. Ranked Teams

Tennessee has already faced a couple of pretty good squads in Oregon and Florida, and lost both games on the road by a combined 90-31. The Volunteers did bounce back from the Gators defeat with a win last Saturday over a decent South Alabama bunch, but let a 31-7 lead at home evaporate in the second half to miss the cover. If not for picking off three errant Jaguar passes, the outcome could've been much different.

The Vols are tied for first with 11 INTs in five games -- 5 in one game vs. Western Kentucky -- but that's about the only nice thing we can say about Butch Jones' defense in Knoxville. Tennessee is allowing almost 250 yards per game through the air, and with the exception of the season opener vs. Austin Peay, the run defense hasn't done its part with opponents averaging more than 163 yards on the ground (73rd-most).

Tennessee certainly doesn't have the firepower on offense to get into a track meet with Georgia. Justin Worley barely cracks the top 100 QBs in the nation in passing efficiency, and while the Volunteers do have a decent running game, they could be playing without Marlin Lane. The junior, second on the team with 280 rushing yards, is questionable with a lower body injury, leaving senior Rajion Neal to carry a heavier load.

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Mother Nature & Final Thoughts

Weather isn't expected to be an issue during the day Saturday in Knoxville where the thermometer is expected to climb into the mid-80s for kickoff under partly cloudy skies. As always, get the latest forecast before making your NCAA football picks.

This has been about as even a series recently as you'll find, both on the scoreboard and by the college football betting numbers. Georgia has won six of the last 10 meetings while Tennessee owns a slight 5-4-1 edge in covering spreads during that stretch. The totals have split right down the middle, 5-5 O/U.

I'd prefer for Gurley to be 100% against the Vols, but then that spread would be higher on the Bulldogs if he was at full strength. Still, I like Murray and the offense to put up enough points to get this cover. Georgia is my free pick in a 37-21 victory.

My pick: Georgia -10 at bet365

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