Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Tennessee Volunteers at Oklahoma Sooners Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/11/2014
Tennessee Volunteers at Oklahoma Sooners, Saturday Sept. 13, 8:00 p.m. ET
Butch Jones is an excellent coach, and I am confident that he is the right choice to move this Tennessee program forward and back into the higher echelons of the SEC where they should be. It's a huge task, though, and progress can be aided significantly by momentum-grabbing upsets. He had one last year - a home upset of then 11th-ranked South Carolina was the lone highlight of an otherwise painful 5-7 season. Pulling off a shocker at Oklahoma would be a much bigger win, though, and you can be sure that Jones is relishing the opportunity.
Jones was 2-0 last year, too, and his team had outscored opponents 97-20 compared to 72-26 this year, so we can't get too excited about the progress it seems like we are seeing so far after a strong start. There are differences, though. First, Utah State and Arkansas State this year are better opponents than Austin Peay and Western Kentucky last year, so the wins are more impressive. More significantly, the defense was lousy last year. Opponents, for example, have converted just seven of 31 third-down opportunities this year. Last year the Vols were among the worst in country, allowing 42.5 of third-down attempts to succeed. Their defensive line play has improved dramatically, and they are playing a much more physical style of play. They obviously are going to be tested in a much different way by Oklahoma than they have been so far, and an upset is a very monumental challenge. However, you can at least begin to imagine that it would be possible - not something you could have done last year.
Tennessee Volunteers at Oklahoma Sooners Betting Storylines
If Tennessee does want to beat the Sooners, they need to do a better job than every other SEC opponent that Bob Stoops has ever faced at home. Remarkably, the Oklahoma coach has a perfect 12-0 record when hosting SEC teams. That makes this game an even bigger event for the Vols than it already is, and that's a major concern because they are so ridiculously young - no team in the country has played more freshmen than the 22 that have seen the field for the Volunteers through few games. Heck, very few will play that many freshmen all year.
Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight has mostly looked sound and confident in his second year as a starter - only one really ugly interception mars an otherwise solid record of work. It's not Knight that Tennessee needs to be most concerned about, though. Keith Ford and Alex Ross have been just deadly on the ground for Oklahoma. The two running backs are averaging more than 7.5 yards per carry and have scored a combined seven times in two games. They are the biggest reasons why the team is averaging 222 yards per game on the ground. If Tennessee can't find a way to slow down the Sooners' rushing attack - and it is frankly tough to imagine that they will be able to - then it could be a long day for the plucky underdogs.
Tennessee Volunteers at Oklahoma Sooners NCAA Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Oklahoma favored by 20 points, and that has risen only slightly to 20.5 points. It has not appeared at 21 points yet despite more than 70 percent of all bets coming in on the Sooners, so three touchdowns seems to be a level of resistance that will be tough to break through. The total opened at 54.5 and is slowly on the rise, with 57 available in spots.
This is the first regular-season meeting between the programs, though they did clash in the Orange Bowl in 1939 and 1968. Tennessee won the first matchup, but, as I'm sure you remember clearly, Oklahoma got revenge in 1968. Tennessee is riding a four-game streak of going "under" the total. The "over," meanwhile, has gone 5-0-1 in Oklahoma's last six. The Sooners are 5-1 ATS in their last six games, while Tennessee is 2-5 ATS in their last seven.
Tennessee Volunteers at Oklahoma Sooners Expert NCAA Football Predictions and Picks
I'm compelled by this Tennessee team and like their direction. If they were a stock I would be buying it heavily and sitting on it. Right now, though, they just aren't ready for primetime. Oklahoma has looked ferocious and extremely prepared - especially in the first half of their games. They are tough at home and very well positioned to exploit the youth and inexperience of the Vols. Tennessee will get an eye-opening win at some point this year, but this won't be it. Oklahoma is the play.
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