From the moment that Tennessee decided to roll with quarterback Hendon Hooker, the Volunteers have been different. The senior has excelled as the team’s starting quarterback and finally beat out former Michigan quarterback Joe Milton for the job. Since then, the offense is rolled and has now reached 41.5 points per game on the year.
Tennessee wouldn’t be 4-2 without Hooker, but Ole Miss also wouldn’t be 4-1 without their quarterback in Matt Corral. It took 52 points to knock off Arkansas last week for Ole Miss in a 52-51 victory. Every single point mattered in that game. So, of course, after last week’s explosion offensively for Ole Miss, the total has now reached a number we’re not used to seeing.
Can both offenses continue their explosions, or will the magic end on Saturday night in Tennessee?
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- Opening Line: Ole Miss -3.5, O/U 78.5
- Current Line: Ole Miss -3, O/U 80
- Last meeting: October 18, 2014, Ole Miss 34, Tennessee 3
It’s been nearly impossible to stop Lane Kiffin’s offense at Ole Miss. The Rebels are averaging 46.2 points per game with 561.6 yards of offense per game. Every aspect of this offense has been sensational, and while the offensive lines haven’t been the best, they’ve done just fine for Matt Corral.
Corral has thrown for 1497 yards and 12 touchdowns with no interceptions on the season. He’s been finding his favorite target Dontario Drummond, who has 26 catches for 460 yards and five touchdowns. But it’s not just Drummond making plays. It’s a lot of guys on this Ole Miss roster doing damage.
Of course, Ole Miss has struggled defensively, allowing 429.8 yards per game with nearly 200 yards on the ground. So while the offense has been terrific, the defense has been a bit shaky at times.
Meanwhile, Tennessee has dominated offensively behind Hooker, who has thrown for 13 touchdowns and one interception. Plus, don’t forget, he didn’t start the season at quarterback for Tennessee. That’s how good he’s been.
The pass protection hasn’t been there for Hooker, but he’s still making plays along with a bunch of rushing playmakers, including Tiyon Evans, who has 486 yards rushing for six touchdowns on 73 attempts. That’s an average of 6.7 yards per carry, and that explosiveness should carry into the game against Ole Miss.
On defense, Tennessee can earn stops, unlike Ole Miss. The coverage has held the opposition to 232.2 yards passing, and the rushing defense has held the opponent to 112.2 yards per game. So there’s reason to believe the Vols can pull off an upset, at home, against a ranked Ole Miss team.
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- Volunteers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games as an underdog of 0.5-3.0.
- Under is 5-0 in Volunteers’ last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Under is 7-1 in Volunteers’ last 8 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.
Ole Miss looks sensational on offense but looks like a disaster on defense. Once they have to face teams that can defend a little, it’s game over for Ole Miss. Just look at how this team performed against Alabama, scoring just 21 points in a 42-21 defeat.
The Vols, on the other hand, are averaging over 41 points per game and have the same type of offense that Ole Miss brings to the table. Of course, everyone wants to talk about that Ole Miss offense, but secretly, there’s a lot to like in this Tennessee offense too.
Hooker has more passing touchdowns than Corral, and Evans has more rushing touchdowns than Henry Parrish Jr. of Ole Miss.
I love taking slight underdogs at home when it makes sense. And this game makes perfect sense. I don’t think Ole Miss has a huge day offensively and like Tennessee to win this game outright. We’ll stick to the +3 for insurance, however.
Pick: Tennessee +3 (-110)
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Jason Radowitz is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive and follow him @Jason_Radowitz.