Tennessee Volunteers at Texas A&M Aggies, Saturday Oct. 8, 3:30 p.m. ET
Alabama hasn't really given us any reason to doubt that the SEC is nothing more than a one-team conference this year. This game somewhat surprisingly, though, sets itself up as the contest that will perhaps determine who the biggest threat to Alabama's supremacy is. Alabama is favored by two touchdowns at Arkansas, so they should move to 6-0. If Tennessee, unbeaten at this point in the season for the first time since they won the national title in 1998, wins here they will match that record and have at least a one game lead in the SEC East standings. If Texas A&M wins they stay neck-and-neck with Alabama in the SEC West - which would make their Oct. 22 trip to Alabama the SEC game of the year. Tennessee, incidentally, hosts Alabama next week, so the Tide loom large over this game in so many ways.
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It's worth noting just how significant this game is in another way, too. This marks the first-ever time that two unbeaten Top 10 teams have played at Kyle Field in October or beyond. The 12th Man is going to be out of his mind for this one.
Tennessee at Texas A&M Betting Storylines
One thing we can probably expect is that Tennessee will not jump out of the gate in this one. They have been the ultimate closers this year - spotting their opponent a lead and then clawing it back. They were down by 10 points against lowly Appalachian State and looked to be against the ropes. They gave up two touchdowns to Virginia Tech, and three to Florida. Last weekend against Georgia they did things a little differently - made things even more interesting. Georgia scored to take a three-point lead with just 10 seconds left, but a heroic Hail Mary at the buzzer from QB Joshua Dobbs was good enough for the win. This team obviously thrives on the comeback. That can be a positive or a negative. On one hand, it certainly means that they have confidence. This team has the swagger right now that only comes from believing that the game isn't over until they say it is. On the other hand, it's dangerous to keep spotting leads to teams because sooner or later you will run into a team that is too good to let you come back on them. People are talking about this team as a team of destiny. It's a popular, romantic notion for college football fans. For bettors, though, that kind of thinking if not overwhelmed by objective thought is just expensive.
Texas A&M was never really threatened last week, but they didn't exactly overwhelm a weak South Carolina team, beating them 24-13. That would be more of a concern than it is if it weren't for the injury situation. Stud DE Myles Garrett, in the discussion to be the first overall pick in next spring's NFL Draft, missed the game with a leg injury. Top receivers Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil were out as well, and so was right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor. That's four significant contributors. Health status going forward is scant for the players as I write this, but it will be very important for bettors to keep an eye on these four - and especially Garrett - as the game nears. Their absences would have much more of an impact now than they did last week.
Tennessee at Texas A&M Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Texas A&M favored by 6.5 at home, and that quickly leapt up to the key number of 7. Action has been evenly split between the teams in terms of number of bets, so sharp money obviously hit the Aggies on the opening flash. The very early total was set at 56.
The Volunteers are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games and 6-0 ATS in their last six against teams with winning records. They are 6-1 ATS in their last seven conference games. The Aggies are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall, but 8-18 ATS in their last 26 conference games, and 8-20-1 ATS in their last 29 games in October.
Tennessee at Texas A&M Predictions and Picks
This is an interesting situation because I didn't have a whole lot of respect for either team heading into the season. I thought they both had flaws that meant that expectations were too high. Now I have to back one. The home crowd will be a big factor here, and if it came down to it I probably like A&M's roster a touch better on paper. I don't think the gap is that large between the squads, though. That move up to seven was key for me. This one could easily be a close game, so to be able to take Tennessee and get a full touchdown is too attractive to overlook. At 6.5 I would be more tentative, but at 7 Tennessee is the pick. Click here for more Week 6 free NCAA football plays.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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