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Early Tennessee football lines show Vols as heavy underdogs

Tennessee opens the season on Aug. 31 against Chuckie Keeton and Utah State.

KNOXVILLE, TennesseeEarly lines on eight Tennessee games indicate that Las Vegas oddsmakers have little optimism for the Vols in 2014.

Tennessee opponents are favored in seven of the eight games released by the Golden Nugget as part of their annual early lines.

Here they are:

UT (+19) at Oklahoma
UT (+17) at Georgia
Florida at UT (+4.5)
UT (+12) at Ole Miss
Alabama at UT (+20)
UT (+18) at South Carolina
Missouri at UT (+4)
UT (-3) at Vanderbilt

Interestingly, roughly one-fourth of the 200 games handicapped by the Golden Nugget had line movements after their initial release to reflect betting trends. But only one Tennessee game was adjusted: Georgia is now favored by 16 points, down from 17. In other words, it doesn’t appear the public is flocking to bet on Tennessee.

Of course, UT will likely be favored in the four games not listed.

If you’re inclined to optimism, think of it this way: The Vols must only steal only one upset after winning the five games in which they will be favored to become bowl eligible.

If you’re inclined to pessimism, the rest of this blog is for you.

A 19-point spread translates to a 2.7 percent chance of winning against Oklahoma. Or just an 11.45 percent chance at Georgia.

For the sake of this simulation, we’ll give UT a 6.5-point edge against Utah State and an 8-point advantage against Arkansas State and Kentucky. We’re giving the Vols a 99.95 percent chance of victory against Chattanooga.

Spin those figures through my simulator 1,000 times and this is what you get:

That’s a 32 percent chance of winning at least six games and making a bowl, a 31 percent chance of having the same record as last year and a 37 percent chance of being worse.

I’ll update the simulator with new numbers as the season goes on.

Think some of the odds are way off? Let me know.

This very early line for UT’s opener against Utah State is closer than you might think

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Not convinced that Tennessee will have its hands full in its season opener against Utah State?

Vegas would beg to differ.

OK, not Vegas, but at least an offshore sports book that has released very early lines on some opening games.

Tennessee is favored by a mere 5.5 points over the Aggies in the Aug. 31 game at Neyland Stadium. (Note all the usual disclaimers).

The Vols really need to win that opener (and, preferably, Week 2 against Arkansas State) because road games against Oklahoma and Georgia follow.

Tennessee opens as 4-point favorite at Kentucky

Tennessee runs through the T on Nov. 23, 2013, against Vanderbilt. (photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee has opened as a four-point favorite over Kentucky in offshore sports books.

The Vols (4-7, 1-6 SEC) and Wildcats (2-9, 0-7) will play their final game of the season on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium (TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.)

Tennessee lost to Vanderbilt 14-10 on Saturday to fall out of bowl contention and ensure the program’s fourth consecutive losing season.

In the Sagarin predictor ratings, which are sometimes frighteningly accurate, the Vols have a 5.19-point edge over Kentucky.

Vols a 7-point underdog at home against No. 7 Auburn

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The seventh-ranked Auburn Tigers are a touchdown favorite over Tennessee this weekend.

The Vols (4-5, 1-4 SEC) play Auburn (8-1, 4-1) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium (TV: ESPN, noon).

Wynn Las Vegas stuck with the offshore line of 7 points, although we also saw 7.5 and 8 points at times.

In the Sagarin ratings, the rating scale gives Auburn a 9.84-point advantage on a neutral site and a 6.35-point edge at Tennessee.

A closer look at the 2nd half of Tennessee’s season: Can the Vols go 3-3, reach a bowl?

Butch Jones modeling the smokey gray today. #IRU

A post shared by Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) on

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — At the midpoint of the season, now is a perfect time to reevaluate my preseason predictions.

Let’s see how I fared so far and determine if we need to tweak any of the predicted outcomes for the rest of the year.

At the risk of bragging, my August predictions have been pretty spot-on so far.

Aug. 31 vs. Austin Peay

Speculative line: UT by 45.

Actual line: UT by 49.

My prediction: UT, 45-7.

Actual score: UT, 45-0.

Sept. 7 vs. Western Kentucky

Speculative line: UT by 21.

Actual line: UT by 14.

My prediction: UT, 31-14.

Actual score: UT, 52-20.

Sept. 14  at Oregon

Oregon’s Autzen Stadium (photo by Evan Woodbery)

Speculative line: Oregon by 20.

Actual line: Oregon by 28.

My prediction: Oregon, 45-14

Actual score: Oregon, 59-14.

Sept. 21   @ Florida   

Speculative line: UF by 17.

Actual line: UF by 16.5

My prediction: Florida, 31-14.

Actual score: Florida, 31-17.

Sept. 28   vs. South Alabama

Speculative line: UT by 23.

Actual line: UT by 16.5.

My prediction: UT, 38-17

Actual score: UT, 31-24.

Oct. 5  vs. Georgia

The Vols lost in overtime to Georgia.

Speculative line: Georgia by 15

Actual line: Georgia by 13.5

My prediction: Georgia 35-28.

Actual score: Georgia 34-31, OT. (fixed earlier error)

(I’m using line information from VegasInsider, which may differ slightly from other sites. All lines are for informational/entertainment purposes ONLY.)

The rest of the schedule looks more difficult in some areas, but could be easier in others. South Carolina is difficult to figure, but still quite dangerous. Auburn and Missouri have exceeded expectations, although an injury to quarterback James Franklin could be devastating for Mizzou’s powerful offense. (Coach Gary Pinkel strongly disputed a report that Franklin would be out for the rest of the year).

What about the other James Franklin? Well, he and the Commodores are having a rough year, but the UT-Vandy meeting in Knoxville still promises to be an important and emotional meeting.

Here’s a look at the final six games, with both my August predictions and any changes I care to make.

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