Time: 7 PM, Oct 3 2015
Spread: TEN -7
Betting odds c/o Bovada
The Tennessee Volunteers are 2-2 on the season but fell in its lone conference game to Florida last week 28-27. It will aim for its first SEC win against 1-3 Arkansas (0-1 SEC) at home as the Razorbacks come to town as 7-point underdogs in the game.
The betting total is set high for this one at 55, something of a reflection of Arkansas’ below average defense and the fact that Tennessee is very capable of putting points on the board.
Tennessee defeated Bowling Green in Week 1 but gave up 30 points, before giving up 31 in a loss in Week 2 to Oklahoma. It took care of business 55-10 against Western Carolina, but allowed 28 last week to Florida. Take out the week against lowly Western Carolina and the team is allowing 29.7 points per game (more telling than the deflated 24.8 figure), which will hardly help it beat quality opponents.
Arkansas only dubiously qualifies as “quality,” but Tennessee is hardly a juggernaut on the defensive end of the ball. The Vols, nevertheless, have allowed less total yards than the Razorbacks, who have surrendered 471.5 yards per game and 26.2 points per contest.
Arkansas has been particularly bad at defending the pass, allowing 285.2 passing yards per game.
Last week the Razorbacks fell to Texas A&M 28-21, and it has also suffered losses to Texas Tech and Toledo, while it won its week 1 matchup against UTEP. In last week’s loss to A&M, Arkansas was able to push it to OT before a 20-yard TD pass to Christian Kirk sealed it for the AP ranked Aggies. Arkansas allowed Kyle Allen to throw 75 percent for completion while amassing 358 yards on just 28 pass attempts.
The Aggies backfield did not do much damage, because it was not called upon as much, attempting just 20 rushes in the game. Arkansas QB Brandon Allen threw 20 of 25, but two of those misfires were INTs. Razorbacks’ RB Alex Collins had a successful day rushing the ball with 151 yards on 26 carries and a TD, but it was not enough to overcome the Razorbacks’ turnover issues.
Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs has 557 yards, but he has thrown just 58 percent for completion with a 6.1 yard per attempt average. He has kept his picks down (one) but has hardly reached his potential with just five TD passes on the year. If not for a dominant backfield, the Vols would not be in the decent position it finds itself in right now.
Tennessee has 12 rushing TDs on the year, seven of which have come in the arms of Jalen Hurd. Hurd has 402 yards on 86 carries this year to lead the Vols in both categories, while Dobbs has rushed for the second most from the pocket (243).
No. 2 back Alvin Kamara has led the team in yards per carry (6.8) and his 211 yards rank third.
Of the Vols’ receivers, only one has double-digit receptions thus far, Ethan Wolf with 11 catches for 126 yards. Tennessee has not had a lot of success throwing the football and will likely get it to Dobbs and Herd on the ground again this week to try to pick apart the Razorbacks from the line of scrimmage.
Dobbs had a better season passing it last year when he was good for 63.3 percent completions and a 6.81 yard per attempt average. His passer rating last year was 63.6 raw QBR and this year it is just 56.3. There is time to salvage the season, but he has preferred to do a lot of his damage on the ground.
Even so, his rushing has only gotten better and it— along with Herd— should be enough to give the Vols a victory and even cover the 7-point spread this week.