Betting odds on the win totals of all SEC football teams were released by BetDSI a few weeks ago, and they set the Vols number at 5.5 wins.
All things considered, that’s probably about right, with a bowl game being within reason, but far from a given. It should also be noted that the over has a slightly larger payout than the under, meaning oddsmakers are leaning towards Tennessee winning five or fewer games.
— BetDSI Sportsbook (@BetDSI) April 17, 2018
Elsewhere, Alabama and Georgia have the highest win total lines at 10.5 wins, while Vanderbilt sits all alone at the bottom again with the lowest line of 5. Considering how hot they ended last season, Missouri might have the most favorable line at 6.5. Florida has a line at 7 wins, but they’ll be lucky if they win one. As always, Florida sucks.
Will the Vols be able to make a bowl game in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season as head coach of Tennessee?
AJ Cook’s Case For The Under
It’s not hard to see why bookies are leaning towards the under. Coming off of a 4-8 season with a new coach who has never been a head coach at any level before, there are sure to be plenty of growing pains for the Volunteers. Injuries along an already depleted offensive line and lack of depth on defense, especially in the secondary, will be an Achilles heel for the Vols all season.
There are very few players on this roster currently that haven’t been partially ruined by the previous regime of coaches and the revolving door of strength coaches in the program. The entire team is relearning how they’ll be playing the next few years, as well. The defense is changing from a 4-3 base to a 3-4 base, while the offense is changing to a more traditional style as opposed to an offense based on gimmicks.
The Vols also will have to face four teams in SI’s way-too-early top-25 in Alabama, @Georgia, @Auburn, and West Virginia in Charlotte. South Carolina will also be a fringe top-25 team, and Tennessee gets them on the road. Assuming Tennessee loses all of those games, Tennessee is liable to drop at least two between Florida, Missouri, and Kentucky. Also, don’t forget that Tennessee hasn’t beaten little brother Vanderbilt since 2015.
A bowl game will be the goal this season, and it’s not entirely out of the question that the Vols will achieve that goal. However, there’s so many questions surrounding this program right now that another five win or fewer season isn’t out of the question either.
Here’s hoping everything about this article is horribly wrong and the Vols never lose a game again.
Jon Reed’s Case For The Over
Tennessee is buying three wins in 2018, ETSU, UTEP and Charlotte.
Boom. We are halfway there.
There are 9 remaining games, but let’s go ahead and throw out games that Tennessee probably has less than a 15% chance of winning. Those are the road trips to Georgia and Auburn and then, sadly, the Third Saturday in October. Could Tennessee win one of these? Sure. . . I guess. The odds are probably an equal inverse to the three bought wins in terms of likeliness, though.
So, we need three out of six.
That leaves a neutral site game vs West Virginia, two road games at South Carolina and Vanderbilt, and three home games vs Florida, Kentucky and Missouri.
Beating the Mountaineers isn’t likely. Tennessee’s lost to South Carolina two years in a row and has never beaten Will Muschamp, (PLEASE STOP THROWING THINGS AND/OR PULLING OUT YOUR HAIR, IT’S NOT GOING TO CHANGE THIS FACT) and will enter the 2018 season with his Cocks ranked in the top 25. Let’s set the likelihood of winning either of these as “possible, not likely” and give the Vols a 30% in both.
Is 30% too high or too low? It wouldn’t be shocking if the Vols were able to pull one of these out, but the early spread had West Virginia listed as 7.5 point favorites (the Vols have since been bet down to only 7 point underdogs). It’s fair to assume that South Carolina will mostly be favored by a similar number when that game is released.
Let’s stick with 30%.
So, *most likely* Tennessee will still need to find three wins in their four games against Florida, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt- all in the state of Tennessee.
The excitement of
Butch Jones no longer being on the sidelines Jeremy Pruitt’s inaugural season will still be high the Gators come to town. And the quarterback situation is less than ideal. Florida won the same pathetic number of games that the Vols did in 2017. This game being in Knoxville, and Pruitt’s first big home game, could be a big boost for two teams that aren’t far apart in terms of confidence or talent.
And don’t forget, Florida still sucks.
Kentucky is, well, still Kentucky. The Wildcats barely won in 2017 at home. Missouri hired Derek Dooley. The Vanderbilt game is in Nashville, and Tennessee fans almost always take over that stadium. It being for a bowl game, as well as a three-game losing streak being on the line, has the potential to make the season finale feel like a big game.
Are we really going to act like Tennessee can’t win those three games- or maybe at least two of them depending on the Florida game- in the state of Tennessee?