Tennessee Volunteers Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
Tennessee used to be really good. A national title in 1998, and years of being a team you just always expected to be in the mix. Lately, though, they have just been kind of sad. Last year they started out looking like they had a way to make the sadness end. But then they crashed spectacularly back to earth. Now they face a whole lot of upheaval, with six key players gone via the draft and several other holes to fill as well. Butch Jones has yet to give his employers $4.6 million of value in his years in the SEC. It would be a good time for him to take a step forward, but that is going to be very tough to do in this spot.
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2016 in a Nutshell
It's started so well. They beat Virginia Tech in front of almost 160,000 at Bristol Motor Speedway. They beat Florida. They won at Georgia. They were 5-0, ranked No. 9, and ready for big things. But then came reality. They lost in double overtime at Texas A&M. Then they got crushed by Alabama, losing by 39 humiliating points. Then they lost a really regrettable one at South Carolina. Suddenly they were 5-3, thoroughly mortal, and out of the Top 25. Tennessee Tech, Kentucky and Missouri got them back on the winning track, but none of those teams are good enough to respect. Then they closed out the season by losing at Vanderbilt before beating Nebraska in their bowl game. The final tally was 9-4 but a lousy 4-4 in the SEC. Not the ideal finish to a dream start by any means.
Key Additions and Departures
The offense will need name tags because of all the changes. QB Joshua Dobbs, the guy who carried this offense far too often, is gone, and Quinten Dormady will likely replace him. Running back Alvin Kamara is gone. Running back Jalen Hurd has transferred to Baylor and may play receiver there. Both losses are significant, but they have depth at running back and should be fine. Top receiver Josh Malone is gone, too. All that change happens under a new offensive coordinator. Mike DeBord returned to his home state to coach at Indiana, so Larry Scott has been promoted from tight end coach. The long-time coach will be making his debut as a coordinator.
The defense was a major disappointment last year, and the best three players - end Derek Barnett, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin and CB Cameron Sutton - were all drafted. Bob Shoop is back for his second year as coordinator, and despite the departures he has some talent to work with across the board. The team was sloppy, though, and not at all disciplined enough against the run. They just simply need to be better.
Jones signed a Top 20 recruiting class headlined by five-star OT Trey Smith. The 27-member class drops off quickly in quality, though - 22 members are three-stars - so immediate impact might be in short supply.
Tennessee Volunteers Schedule Analysis
The Vols open on a neutral field against Georgia Tech and then get a gimme against Indiana State before a tough trip to Florida. Another gimme against UMass precedes a game against Georgia. They beat Florida and Georgia last year, but both teams are better, and I don't think this team is. Next up is South Carolina then a trip to Alabama that will go very poorly. Then it's softer with Kentucky, Southern Miss and Missouri before LSU visits and then Vanderbilt finishes things out. So, there are four games that are going to be very tough to win and a few more that could go either way. This team is in very tough to match their record of last year, and I would bet against it happening.
2017-18 Tennessee Volunteers Betting Odds and Trends
Tennessee is +8000 to win the national title, which puts them in a group of teams behind 21 better contenders. That seems about right in terms of hierarchy, though I can't think of a single reason to entertain a bet on this team at this or any price. At +1600 they are the sixth choice to win the SEC and miles behind heavily-favored Alabama at -150. They are currently favored by 3.5 in their opener against Georgia Tech at the shiny new stadium in Atlanta.
2017-18 Tennessee Volunteers Predictions and College Football Picks
I'm not a fan of this team as they stand and have lost faith in Jones as a solution there. The best thing that could happen for the program is for them to stumble to six or seven wins and earn a new head coach as a reward. I don't see them as a viable threat in the SEC, and I don't think they will pull off many surprises this season. They don't look like much, and they will live up to that.
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