Just several weeks after having the fourth-shortest odds to win the SEC title, Tennessee is in a historic underdog role this week.
The Vols are currently slated as 21-point ‘dogs against No. 2 Alabama in Saturday afternoon’s contest. This would be just the third time in program history that Tennessee was an underdog of three touchdowns or more at Neyland Stadium.
However, it will be the third consecutive season in this role. Georgia came to Neyland and covered as a 24.5-point favorite last season and the Crimson Tide covered as 29.5-point favorites in 2018.
Circa Sports in Las Vegas is the first sportsbook to post college football lines each week. The book listed Alabama as a 17-point ‘chalk,’ but that number quickly evaporated. Another sportsbook in town—the Westgate SuperBook—posts its opening college football lines on Mondays.
“I know the market has been moving a lot, but we opened at 21. We are still there,” Westgate risk manager Edgar Federico said. “Obviously all the action, the general public is on Alabama. No one is touching Tennessee.”
The SuperBook did take one professional bet on this game, but it was on the total.
“We opened the total at 66 and we did take a half-limit bet on the under,” Federico said. “We moved the total to 65.5. The limit is two dimes, so we took a $1,000 bet on the under.”
The sharp wager on the ‘under’ bucks several trends. These teams have gone ‘over’ in each of their last five games at Neyland Stadium and in six of the last eight contests overall. Tennessee has now gone ‘under’ in seven of its last nine games, as the offense continues to struggle.
Alabama’s lengthy winning streak in the rivalry is well-documented. The games have not been close in general, with the Crimson Tide covering the spread in 10 of the last 14 meetings.
Tennessee was on a hot streak to end last season and was an excellent team to back in the betting market. The Vols have now covered in just one of their last six games, though. They are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as an underdog.
Unless the line continues to move in Alabama’s favor, the professional bettors are likely going to stay away from this one.
“No sharp action yet. At 21.5 we would probably see some sharp action,” Federico said. “But who knows, we are still a few days away.”
Tennessee and Alabama are set to kick off Saturday at 3:30 on CBS.