College Football Picks: Lean on Well Rested Tennessee To Keep it Close vs. Alabama

Matthew Jordan

Monday, October 19, 2015 6:54 PM GMT

Tennessee vs.Alabama is one of the oldest rivalries in the SEC and it's renewed again, as the Tide look to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive. Check our college football pick here.

UT Well Rested For Showdown
Tennessee (3-3, 1-2 SEC) has the advantage of coming off its bye week. The Vols were largely regarded as the second-favorites to win the SEC East entering the season and they still have a shot at it. Florida (6-1, 4-1) leads the East and holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Tennessee. But the Vols hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over preseason favorite Georgia (5-2, 3-2). They upset the Dawgs 38-31 on Oct. 10 in their last game. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs had his best game of the season, throwing for a career-high 312 yards and rushing for 118 more while accounting for five touchdowns. Georgia led that game by 21 at one point -- UT has been the team that has been blowing leads this season. It is so close to being 6-0 and likely ranked in the Top 10 of the polls. UT blew big leads in a 31-24 double-overtime loss to Oklahoma and 28-27 loss at Florida. UT also led Arkansas 14-0 at one point but lost 24-20.

If the Vols can pull off this big upset, they should be favored the rest of the way. Their remaining schedule is at Kentucky, vs. South Carolina, vs. North Texas, at Missouri, vs. Vanderbilt. The question is: Will Florida lose twice more in conference play? The Gators play Georgia in Jacksonville on Halloween and then finish vs. Vanderbilt, at South Carolina, vs. Florida Atlantic and vs. Florida State. If UT, UF and UGA finished in a three-way tie, the first tiebreaker is combined head-to-head record among the teams. The second is record of the tied teams within the division.

Tennessee is 3-3 against the spread on college football odds this season and 4-2 'over/under.'

 

Alabama Back In Form
There was panic in Tuscaloosa when Alabama lost at home to Ole Miss 43-37 on Sept. 19. But Nick Saban's bunch has responded in impressive fashion in winning four straight. The Tide (6-1, 3-1) blew out UL Monroe following that defeat, dominated then-No. 8 Georgia 38-10 in Athens, handled visiting Arkansas 27-14 and then dispatched No. 9 Texas A&M 41-23 on Saturday in College Station. Alabama running back Derrick Henry boosted his Heisman chances by rushing for a career-high 236 yards against the Aggies with two touchdowns. The Tide incredibly returned three Kyle Allen interceptions for touchdowns: a 33-yarder by Minkah Fitzpatrick (first score of game), a 93-yarder by Eddie Jackson (made it 28-6 in the second quarter) and a 55-yarder by Fitzpatrick (final score of game). Henry is now +1600 at Bovada Heisman odds.

In the four games since the Ole Miss loss, Alabama's defense has allowed an average of 231.8 yards and 11.8 points per game, while scoring four touchdowns. One more conference loss could end Alabama's SEC West title hopes and College Football Playoff chances. LSU (6-0, 4-0) is the only West team without a  loss. The No. 5 Tigers visit Alabama on Nov. 7. The Tide still have to go to Mississippi State and Auburn this season as well. Obviously Ole Miss would win any head-to-head tiebreaker with Alabama. The Rebels have a very tough schedule remaining: vs. No. 15 Texas A&M (this week), at Auburn, vs. Arkansas, vs. No. 5 LSU and the Egg Bowl at Mississippi State.

Alabama starting center Ryan Kelly might miss this game as he suffered a concussion against Texas A&M. He's in the concussion protocol. J.C. Hassenauer came off the bench to relieve Kelly late in the first half and would start if Kelly can't go.

The Tide are 3-4 against the spread on college football picks this week and 3-4 O/U.

 

Last Meeting
The Tide were ranked No. 4 in the nation last year when they visited Knoxville and won 34-20. Tennessee is probably thrilled that Amari Cooper in now with the NFL's Oakland Raiders as he was unstoppable for Alabama in that win, catching nine passes for 224 yards and two scores. Blake Sims threw for 286 yards and those two touchdowns. Henry rushed 16 times for 78 yards and a touchdown. Dobbs was 19-for-32 for 192 yards, two scores and a touchdown in his first game action of last season; he didn't enter the game until UT's third series. Dobbs also rushed 19 times for 75 yards. The Crimson Tide have not lost to the Vols since 2006, Mike Shula's last year as head coach. Bama's 12-10 win in 2009 was the only one-score victory margin of the streak. In Dobbs' two career games, UT has outscored Alabama 30-29 with him in the game.

 

Final Analysis
Bama will win the game but take the points. The Tide are 1-7 ATS in their past eight following an ATS win. They have failed to cover four straight at home. The road team has covered 14 of the past 20 meetings. 

College Football Pick: Tennessee +16 at Pinnacle

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