No question that the biggest game in Week 7 of the college football season is from the SEC as No. 3 Alabama visits No. 6 Tennessee in a possible preview of the conference title game.
Which way to lean at OddsTrader’s top-rated sportsbooks?
Saturday, October 15, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Neyland Stadium
CBS has the biggest game of the week in college football and the biggest game at Tennessee in years, as the No. 6 Vols can really prove if they are for real when they host No. 3 Alabama. We could see a rematch in the SEC title game, although obviously, it would be harder for Saturday’s loser to get there. Georgia is clearly going to have a say from UT’s East Division.
To no surprise, ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Knoxville for the second time in three weeks. Tennessee also hosted before it beat Florida 38-33 on Sept. 24, the first time it hosted in six years.
Last year in Tuscaloosa, the Tide were 24.5-point favorites on the NCAAF odds board and beat Tennessee 52-24 – Bama’s 15th straight win in the border rivalry. It was a competitive game until the fourth, when Alabama outscored UT 28-7.
Bryce Young passed for 371 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more scores. More on him below. Brian Robinson, now in the NFL, ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns. The Tide held the ball for more than 40 minutes and converted 15 of 20 third-down plays. Tennessee was 2 of 13. Hendon Hooker threw for 282 yards and three scores with a pick for the Vols.
Alabama leads the all-time series 59-37-8. The Tide are 5-1 against the spread in the past six meetings and have covered nine of their past 10 in Knoxville.
Will Bryce Young Return?
We previewed Alabama’s home game vs. Texas A&M last week at OddsTrader and recommended the Aggies +24.5 as well under the total, but only the latter play if Tide QB and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young didn’t play due to injury. He didn’t, and we won on both as Alabama escaped 24-20 – although AP pollsters dropped Nick Saban’s team from No. 1 to No. 3.
Texas A&M had an opportunity to win it on the game’s final play, but quarterback Hayes King’s pass to the short corner of the endzone fell to the ground.
Freshman QB Jalen Milroe threw for three touchdowns in his first start, but the Tide had only 111 yards passing and turned it over four times. Alabama accounted for 293 total yards on the ground, led by running back Jahmyr Gibbs’ 154 yards on 21 carries. Milroe had 83 yards on 17 carries but had a pick and two lost fumbles. Will Reichard missed two field goals and twice the offense reached the end zone without putting points on the board.
Saban Seems Hopeful
“That was not our best football out there,” Saban said. “When you don’t have your quarterback out there and the second-teamer has to play, everybody’s got to play better.” As of this writing, we don’t know if Young will play against Tennessee because of shoulder soreness. Saban is hopeful, but what else would he say?
This will be Alabama’s 45th appearance on ESPN College Game Day under Saban and the Tide are 32-12. They won a squeaker at Texas on the show early this year. Overall, Saban is 54-3 in the month of October, but all three losses were away. In Saban’s six national championship seasons at Alabama, his teams have gone 18-2 (.900) against Top-10 opponents overall.
Vols Are Dominant Offensively
It is going to be an absolute zoo in Knoxville on Saturday. Led by Heisman Trophy candidate and QB Hendon Hooker, the Vols are No. 1 in yards per game and No. 2 in points per game nationally, but the Crimson Tide defense has given up the sixth-fewest points and yards per game.
Tennessee could have been excused for maybe looking ahead to this game last Saturday at No. 25 LSU but had no trouble in a 40-13 win. UT was very balanced with 272 rushing yards and 239 passing yards. Hooker passed for 239 yards and two scores. He has at least one TD pass in 17 straight games, one shy of Heath Shuler’s program record of 18 consecutive games during a stretch from 1992-94.
Everyone Is on Their A Game
Jabari Small rushed for 127 yards and two scores. Bru McCoy had a career day, gaining 140 receiving yards and passing the century mark for the second time in as many games. UT led LSU 13-0 at the end of the first quarter. Under second-year head coach Josh Heupel, the Vols have outscored opponents 243-61 in the first quarter, including 54-10 this season.
The Vols have reached the 30-point plateau in eight straight games dating to last season. That streak is currently top in the SEC. Heupel-led teams have scored 30+ in 47 games (33 at UCF, 14 at Tennessee), ranking second among head coaches since 2018. Tennessee has now defeated three ranked teams in the same season for the first time since 2007 and for the first time in a regular season since 2001.
One Possible Distraction
There is one distraction for this game as four-year starting safety Jaylen McCollough was arrested on a charge of aggravated felony assault Sunday. He is tied for fourth on the team with 23 tackles. Not clear if he will be allowed to play.
The Vols are ranked No. 128 among 131 FBS teams in pass defense, and they’ve already lost starting cornerback Warren Burrell to a season-ending injury.
The Final Pick and Prediction
Saturday will be the 10th time that both schools are ranked in the Top 10 at the time of the meeting, and first since 2016.
I think there’s a good chance UT wins outright – especially if Bryce Young is out again – but certainly should cover more than a touchdown. The Tide are 2-6 ATS in their past eight road games vs. teams with a winning home record.
NCAAF pick: Tennessee +7.5 (-115) at BetMGM