Where were on you on October 21, 2006? It was a fall Saturday afternoon, and it was the year Twitter was invented. It was also the last time the Tennessee Vols defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide. Unfortunately for the Vols, Nick Saban would leave his job with the Miami Dolphins shorty thereafter, and begin a reign of terror at Alabama that has seen 15 straight Crimson Tide victories over the Vols. Saturday will be the first time in a while that Tennessee takes the field with realistic hope of ending that streak. In what is a fantastic Saturday slate featuring conference clashes between ranked teams all day and night, this showdown might be the most fascinating, and will go a long way to determining the four teams competing in the College Football playoff.
Alabama comes in to this showdown with a perfect 6-0 record (4-2 against the spread) while Tennessee is also unblemished at 5-0 (4-1 ATS). I’m laying the points with Alabama, because I think this an overreaction to Tennessee’s recent dominance, coupled with Alabama’s lackluster performance a week ago. Bettors simply have a hard time ignoring, and not overreacting, to the last thing they saw. Tennessee won 40-13 in LSU, a game where they covered by over three touchdowns. Alabama struggled as 24.5 point favorites, hanging on to a 24-20 win over Texas A+M, as they needed a stop at the goal line to secure the unimpressive victory.
Coaches often admit, the best thing that can happen to a team is to play poorly and still win, because it gives the coach ammunition to be hard on their team all week at practice, highlight their mistakes, and improve accordingly. Nick Saban will have all week to tell his team how poorly they played , and convince them they are coming off of a loss. He will also likely have Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young back in the starting lineup. This line is 7.5, it was available all summer long at 14, even 14.5 in some spots in the lookahead line. Granted, Tennessee has played extremely well, but adjusting this number a full touchdown seems excessive. People rushing to the window to bet +7.5 could have had a full 7 points more when these lines opened months ago. I expect Alabama to dominate in the trenches, and to flex their muscles with their dozens of future NFL players to bounce back and win by double-digits. It’s a rare opportunity to get Alabama in a buy-low spot, lay the points here.