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College Football Betting Picks — Tennessee takes #1 CFP ranking into showdown with Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia Bulldogs Football

Can the Banged up Georgia Bulldogs Slow Down Tennessee Volunteers in College Football Action

By Charles Jay

College football action is heating up this weekend after the first CFP rankings were released and the Tennessee Volunteers jumped the Georgia Bulldogs. It is the showdown no one expected at the beginning of the season. But BetAnySports customers already recognize that it is going to go a long way toward determining which teams participate in the College Football Playoff.

And of course, it’s no surprise that it involves the SEC.

The Georgia Bulldogs have gone undefeated this season as they defend their national championship. And they are #1 in both the AP rankings and the Coaches’ poll. That one people could have figured on. But the Tennessee Volunteers have injected themselves into the national title picture with a dramatic 52-49 win over Alabama in what was a game for the ages.

They are tied for second in the AP poll, third with the Coaches, and – here’s the best part – #1 in the College Playoff Rankings. So you might say they’re the team to beat.

Will Georgia beat them?

We’ll find out on Saturday at 3:30 PM ET at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA.

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College Football Betting Picks — Here are the numbers

According to the folks at BetAnySports, Georgia is the favorite at home:

Georgia Bulldogs -8.5
Tennessee Volunteers +8.5

Over 65 points -110
Under 65 points -110

College Football Betting Picks —  What happened last year?

These teams clashed last season on November 13. and Georgia rolled up 274 yards on the ground and slowed down a high-octane Tennessee attack en route to a 41-17 victory.

There are a couple of interesting things to take note of; one is that Hendon Hooker went into that game with 21 TD passes and two INT’s, almost identical to this year’s numbers. And one guy who did a lot of damage for Tennessee was Cedric Tillman, who had ten catches for 200 yards. Georgia covered the pointspread as a 19.5-point favorite.

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College Football Betting Picks — About the Georgia Bulldogs

In games against FBS opposition, Georgia has allowed twelve points and 282 yards per game. But they are without Nolan Smith, one of the top pass rushers in the country, who is out with a torn pectoral muscle.

On offense, when facing FBS teams, they have gained 537.4 yards, which is best in the nation. Quarterback Stetson Bennett has only nine touchdown passes, but he has more passing yards than his Tennessee counterpart, Hendon Hooker. There is a running back “by committee” led by Daijun Edwards (443 yards, 6.3 ypc) and Kenny McIntosh (332 yards, 4.9 ypc) leading the way. This is a team that converts on 54% of its third downs.

There isn’t a lot of explosiveness on the flanks, although the Bulldogs make up for that with one of the best players in the country in Brock Bowers (17.6 yards per catch), who can line up at multiple spots, including tight end. Another tight end who is headed to the NFL is 6-foot-7 Darnell Washington. There are six other receivers with double-digit catches and double-digit yards per reception.

College Football Betting Picks — About the Tennessee Volunteers

One of the stories about this Tennessee squad is that Hendon Hooker is running Josh Heupel‘s fast break offense even better than last season. He’s thrown just one interception against 21 touchdowns, averaging 10.7 yards per attempt.

They send receivers at opponents in bunches, and they complement each other pretty well. Jalin Hyatt is pure speed, and he leads the SEC in receiving yards (907). He has also set a school record for touchdown receptions for a season (14), with five of those scores coming in the 52-49 win over Alabama. He’s averaging 20.2 yards per reception.

On top of that, they have the aforementioned Tillman, who carved up the Georgia secondary last time, along with Ramel Keyton (17.4 yards per catch) and Bru McCoy (15.0).

There’s a balanced ground attack. And it’s very effective, chalking up just a shade below 200 yards per contest. Jabari Small (475 yards) and Jaylen Wright (478 yards) are the principal figures.

What the Vols do to keep opposing defenses off-balance is that they get off plays quickly, taking just 21.3 seconds of the clock between snaps. With so many pass-catchers flooding the secondary, it presents a different challenge than Georgia has faced before.

Defending passes has been Tennessee’s problem; they have allowed 298.6 passing yards per game. Only ten teams in the nation have surrendered more through the air.

College Football Betting Picks — What’s our conclusion?

A tough one to call, because while both teams have shown they can get the job done on the offensive side of the ball, Georgia has demonstrated over the last three seasons that they put a defense on the field that is very much for real.

But if you watched Tennessee against Alabama, you got the sense that the Vols could score against anyone. They have multiple outlets for Hooker, a genuine running game to keep the ‘Dawgs honest, and a pace that is fast enough to make it hard to make adjustments. Georgia hasn’t seen that this year.

And the Bulldogs don’t get out after the passer that well (ten sacks), so Hooker has time to operate, more than likely. The ever-improving Bennett won’t likely be stopped, though, and we can’t have all the faith in the world in the Tennessee secondary.

Yes, it’s a big number, but the factors we’re looking at really make an OVER possible.

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Dirty has been an employee or owner of some of the top online sports gambling forums since 1998. He worked at EOG.com from it's inception until 2008 when he left and opened GamblingIQ and then in 2012 opened Handicappers Hidaway. He has written hundreds af articles over the years and always has his "Dirty Dozen" College Football poll up starting the first week of October.
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