Tennessee opened as a 12.5-point underdog to Texas A&M this week, and the line has since moved to 14. With a gun to its head, the GRT Statsy Preview Machine is predicting that the Aggies will cover, but it’s also screaming that both teams are inconsistent enough to be wary of the whole thing.
Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense for both teams
From the perspective of Tennessee
Tennessee’s Scoring Offense this year: 22.4
Texas A&M’s Scoring Offense this year: 31.4
Tennessee’s Scoring Defense this year: 29.7
Texas A&M’s Scoring Defense this year: 22.1
The Texas A&M scoring defense of 22.1 is most similar to the following prior Tennessee opponents:
- Auburn 23.7
- Georgia 19.9
Tennessee scored 17 points against Auburn and 21 points against Georgia. Combined, that’s 87% of what those teams usually give up, making the estimated points for Tennessee against Texas A&M 19.2.
The Texas A&M scoring offense of 31.4 is most similar to the following prior Tennessee opponents:
- Georgia 33.2
- Missouri 26.1
Georgia scored 44 points against Tennessee, but Missouri got only 12. So, against the best comps, Tennessee allowed 94% of what those teams usually get. That makes the estimated points for Texas A&M against Tennessee 29.5.
Estimated score: Tennessee 19.2, Texas A&M 29.5
From the perspective of Texas A&M
The Tennessee scoring defense of 29.7 is most similar to the following prior Texas A&M opponents:
- Mississippi State 27.9
- Florida 26.3
Texas A&M scored 28 points against Mississippi State but 41 points against Florida, which, taken together, is 127% of what those teams usually give up. That makes the estimated points for Texas A&M against Tennessee 37.7.
The Tennessee scoring offense of 22.4 is most similar to the following prior Texas A&M opponents:
- South Carolina 23.5
- Arkansas 25.7
South Carolina scored only 3 points against Texas A&M. Arkansas got 31. Combined, that’s 69% of what those teams usually get, which makes the estimated points for Tennessee against Texas A&M 15.5.
Estimated score: Texas A&M 37.7, Tennessee 15.5
SPM Final Estimates
Combining the results from both perspectives, here’s what we get:
SPM Final estimated score: Tennessee 17.4, Texas A&M 33.6
SPM Final estimated spread: Texas A&M -16.2
Difference between the SPM and the Vegas opening spread: 3.7
That makes this a Category 1 game, meaning the Machine is not particularly self-confident.
I think it’s wise to be wary of the Machine’s results this week. For one, using Georgia and Missouri as scoring offense comps from Tennessee’s perspective is troubling because Georgia got a lot more than they should have and Missouri got a lot less. Plus, all four of the comps from A&M’s perspective have similar problems, especially South Carolina and Arkansas as scoring defense comps. This demonstrates quite nicely that both Tennessee and Texas A&M have been inconsistent this season.
So, I decided to run the Machine again using every game of the season as comps for both teams. The result? Tennessee 17.6, Texas A&M 31.7, a spread of -14.1.
So . . . what we’re dealing with here is a situation where both teams are inconsistent, but one is clearly still better over a larger sample size. That means that I’m going with Texas A&M 31, Tennessee 17 (A&M -14), but also hopeful for a wildly different result in Tennessee’s favor if the Vols play well and the Aggies play poorly.
Other predictions from other systems
With the Vols 12.5-point underdogs and an over/under of 51.5, Vegas is predicting a score of something like Texas A&M 32, Tennessee 19.
Bill Connelly’s SP+ likes Texas A&M by 12.5 (Texas A&M 33, Tennessee 20, Vanderbilt 17) and gives the Vols a 24% chance of winning.
The Statsy Preview Machine has done its best with the data it has, but I think it has overshot the mark a bit due to using only two comps each from inconsistent teams. However, we both think that A&M covers the opening spread. SP+ spit out the same prediction as the opening line and also has A&M against the spread, but only after rounding.
- Vegas: Texas A&M 32, Tennessee 19 (Texas A&M -12.5)
- SP+: Texas A&M 33, Tennessee 20 (Texas A&M -13, covers)
- GRT’s Statsy Preview Machine: Texas A&M 33.6, Tennessee 17.4 (Texas A&M -16.2, covers)
- Me: Texas A&M 31, Tennessee 17 (Texas A&M -14, covers) (but on upset alert!)
Season results on Tennessee games
- Week 4: The SPM and I were both right (albeit overconfident) in saying the Vols would cover against South Carolina.
- Week 5: The SPM and I were both wrong in thinking the Vols would not cover and would win by only 6 points. They won by 23.
- Week 6: The SPM was right, but I was wrong. The SPM predicted Georgia to cover a 14.5-point spread with a score of Georgia 29, Tennessee 12, while my eyeball adjustment revised that to say the Bulldogs would not cover with a score of Georgia 24, Tennessee 20. Georgia covered with a score of Georgia 44, Tennessee 21.
- Week 7: Both the SPM and I were wrong in thinking the Vols would cover 6.5 points as a favorite over the Kentucky Wildcats. The Vols lost 34-7. Oof.
- Week 8: Both the SPM and I were right in predicting that Alabama would cover the 20-point spread, the machine calling it 47-22 and me calling it 47-24. Alabama won 48-17.
- Week 10: The SPM was right and I was wrong about the Arkansas game. The Machine predicted the Vols would not cover a 1-point spread against Arkansas, and I predicted a 1-point win. Arkansas won 24-13.
- Week 12: Both the SPM and I were right in predicting that Auburn would cover the 11.5-point spread. Auburn won by 13, 30-17.
- Week 14: Both the SPM and I were wrong in predicting that Florida would cover the 17-point spread. Florida won by 12.
- Week 15: The SPM and I were both wrong in predicting that Tennessee wouldn’t cover as 15-point favorites over Vanderbilt. The Vols won 42-17.
What do y’all think?