Will the Vols cover against Vanderbilt?

Happy Thanksgiving. We’re grateful for all y’all.

Tennessee opened as a 20-point favorite over the Commodores this week and started inching up from there. This Thanksgiving morning, it’s at -21.5. So . . . will the Vols cover against Vanderbilt Saturday night? Here’s what the GRT Statsy Preview Machine has to say and whether I think it’s right this week.

Vols-Commodores

From the perspective of Tennessee

Tennessee’s points:

  • Tennessee scoring offense for the season: 23.9
  • Vanderbilt scoring defense for the season: 32.1

The Vanderbilt scoring defense is most similar to the following prior Tennessee opponent(s) (FBS only):

  • Mississippi State 28.8
  • Georgia State 35.9

Tennessee scored 30 points against Georgia State and 20 against Mississippi State. That’s 77% of what those teams usually give up, so the SPM estimates 24.7 points for the Vols against Vandy.

Vanderbilt’s points:

  • Tennessee scoring defense for the season: 22.7
  • Vanderbilt scoring offense for the season: 17.1

The Vanderbilt scoring offense is most similar to the following prior Tennessee opponent(s):

  • South Carolina 24.2
  • Kentucky 24.6

Tennessee allowed only 13 points to Kentucky and 21 points to South Carolina, 70% of what those teams usually score. The SPM estimates 12 points for Vandy against the Vols.

Estimated score: Tennessee 24.7, Vanderbilt 12

From the perspective of Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt’s points:

  • Vanderbilt scoring offense for the season: 17.1
  • Tennessee scoring defense for the season: 22.7

The Tennessee scoring defense is most similar to the following prior Vanderbilt opponent(s) (FBS only):

  • LSU 23.5
  • South Carolina 25

Against LSU, Vanderbilt scored 38 points against LSU but only 7 against South Carolina. Together, that’s 93% of what those teams usually allow. Estimated points for Vanderbilt against Tennessee: 21.1

Tennessee’s points:

  • Vanderbilt scoring defense for the season: 32.1
  • Tennessee scoring offense for the season: 23.9

The Tennessee scoring offense is most similar to the following prior Vanderbilt opponent(s):

  • South Carolina 24.2
  • Purdue 24.5

Purdue got 42 points against Vanderbilt, while South Carolina got its average of 24. Taken together, that’s 136% of what those guys usually get. The SPM estimates 32.5 points for the Vols against the ‘Dores.

Estimated score: Vanderbilt 21.1, Tennessee 32.5

Tennessee 28.6, Vanderbilt 16.5
Tennessee -12.1

SPM Final Estimates

Throw it in, cook it up, take a peek:

SPM Final estimated score: Tennessee 28.6, Vanderbilt 16.5

SPM Final estimated spread: Tennessee -12.1

Difference between the SPM and the Vegas opening spread: 7.9

This is not one of the SPM’s favorites this week, but it’s not far off, either.

Eyeball adjustments

I’m having trouble swallowing the estimate from Tennessee’s perspective of only 25 points for the Vols, based on the fact that Missouri’s defense is really good, Vanderbilt’s is not nearly as good, and Tennessee just put 24 on Missouri. The Vols got 120% of what the Tigers usually give up last week, and if they do that against Vandy, that would make it more like 39. I trust Tennessee’s points from Missouri’s perspective better (32.5), so let’s call it 33.

On Vandy’s points, there’s too big of a difference between what they got against LSU and what they got against South Carolina for me to totally trust the numbers from the ‘Dores’ perspective. It looks about right from the Vols’ perspective, although 12 feels maybe just a bit high to me based on just how terrible Vandy’s offense appears to be. For that reason, I’m going to knock it down to 10.

So, my eyeball-adjusted prediction is Tennessee 33, Vanderbilt 10. The SPM doesn’t like the Vols to cover in this one, but I do.

Other predictions from other systems

As I said before, the Vols opened as 20-point favorites and it’s currently -21.5. With an over/under of 45.5, that translates to something like Tennessee 33, Vanderbilt 12.

Bill Connelly’s SP+ likes Tennessee 35-16 (Vols -19), and gives the Vols an 87% chance of winning.

ESPN’s FPI gives the Vols a 91.2% chance of winning. For the record, FPI has been too low on the Vols the last two weeks.

Bottom line

The SPM doesn’t like the Vols to cover this week as either the opening 20-point favorite or today’s 21.5-point favorite. It’s not in the sweet spot for the machine, though, and after an eyeball adjustment, I like them to cover.

  • Vegas: Tennessee, -21.5 (~Tennessee 33, Vanderbilt 12)
  • SP+: Tennessee 35, Vanderbilt 16 (doesn’t cover)
  • SPM: Tennessee 29, Vanderbilt 17 (doesn’t cover)
  • Me: Tennessee 33, Vanderbilt 10 (covers)

What do y’all think?

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