Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming college football season. Covers Expert Larry Ness gives you their insight into these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.
NCAAF Week 9: Tennessee Volunteers at Alabama Crimson Tide (-28)
Past history: Historically, these longtime SEC rivals would always play on the third Saturday in October. However, as we all know, the times they are a changin’. Alabama is 6-0 SU (5-1 ATS) vs. Tennessee since the arrival of Nick Saban in 2007 and the Vols haven’t scored more than 17 points against the Tide in the last nine matchups.
Early look at Tennessee: Phil Fulmer was forced out at Knoxville after the 2008 season, despite a terrific 17-year run in which he led the Vols to the first-ever BCS Championship in 1998. Lane Kiffin replaced him and went 7-6 but then jumped ship for USC. Derek Dooley was a surprise hire and was a major disappointment, going 15-21 before being fired with one game to go in the 2012 season. Butch Jones (former Central Michigan and Cincinnati head coach) takes over and many people think the Vols could be a sleeper in the SEC East in 2013, but I’m not one of them.
Early look at Alabama: What can one say about a program which has won three of the last four national championships? A.J. McCarron is back at QB with two national championships on his resume, along with a 25-2 record as a starter (49 TDs and just eight INTs in his career). Alabama’s defense was rebuilding last year but still allowed just 10.9 PPG. This year’s unit figures to the best in the nation and may just turn in effort like the 2011 defense, which allowed only 8.2 PPG.
Where this line will move: Tennessee holds the distinction of being one of just two FBS schools to have never lost as many as eight games in a season (Ohio State is the other). The Vols were just 5-7 last year and, while I’m not as high on them as others are, I expect a winning season for them in 2013. That said, prior to this game, the Vols will have played at Oregon and Florida plus will have hosted Georgia and South Carolina in their first seven games.
As for the Tide, if they beat Texas A&M at College Station on September 14 (second game of the season), they’ll likely be 7-0 entering this game. Little doubt about who will win but over the last four seasons (while winning three national championships), Alabama is a modest 14-13 ATS at home, including 9-7 ATS vs. SEC opponents. My guess is that they’ll be Tennessee‘takers in this contest.