NCAAF · Sat (10/16) @ 7:40pm ET
|Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN|
Our Pick: TENN Tennessee at 7.5 (-122). Enjoy a $1000 risk-free bet when you join BetMGM today!
The last time Ole Miss and Tennessee faced off in a meaningful game was the 1997 college football season. Tennessee got the win that year and went on to win the SEC Championship game, was ranked No. 3 in the nation, and earned an invite to the Orange Bowl. Ole Miss went on to finish 8-4 and ranked No. 22 in the polls.
It is hard to say just how good either team is at this point in the season. Both have played well at times and not so good at other times. However, a win this week would do more for Tennessee than Ole Miss, but a loss could keep the Rebels out of the conversation for one of the New Year’s Six bowl games.
So– who is going to win?
Ole Miss Rebels
It is no secret how Ole Miss will try to win this game and every other game they play this season—by outscoring the opposition. With Lane Kiffin as head coach, it should come as no surprise that the Rebels have one of the most talented and productive offenses in college football. So far, they have generated 561.3 yards (No. 3 in the country) and 46.2 points a game (No. 4).
The only thing that may be surprising is that their running game (No. 5; 259.6 yards) is ranked higher than their passing attack (No. 18).
However, a team with a decent defense and a reasonably productive offense has a good shot at winning. As bad as the Ole Miss defense is (No. 100 in total yards allowed/game; T-No. 105 in points allowed), an offense does not need to be stacked with superstars to score on them. Factor in a defense capable of stopping the Ole Miss offensive juggernaut once or twice, and you have a solid shot at beating them.
Last weekend’s game against Arkansas is a perfect example. The Razorbacks offense could practically score at will against the Ole Miss defense. If they had chosen to take the game to overtime rather than go for two, they could have very well won it.
As dynamic as the Ole Miss offense is, opposing teams need to have comparable talent on offense and a solid defense to win. While the Arkansas offense is solid, the same cannot be said for their defense.
When the university hired then UCF head coach Josh Heupel to take over, fans were excited. With the talent fans believe their team has and his style of offense, the Volunteers were at least going to be exciting to watch this season, if not competitive. As it turns out, six games into the 2021 college football season, they are both.
With a 4-2 record, the Volunteers are not going to contend for the SEC or National Championship, but they will not make it easy for anyone else in the SEC. The passing game is not quite as explosive as UCF’s was under Heupel last season. But it is doing well with the talent it has (No. 81; 220.3 yards/game)
It is also one of the more efficient passing attacks in the country (No. 22). Along with a top ten rushing attack (No. 7; 253.7 yards/game), the Tennessee offense is seventh in the nation in scoring with 41.5 points a game.
But what should concern Ole Miss fans is that the defense appears to be pretty decent. It is not great (No. 45 in total yards allowed and No. 37 in scoring), and the passing defense is average at best (No. 73; 232.2 yards/game). However, with Ole Miss struggling hard on defense, the Volunteers D may be good enough.
It is worth noting that the defense has thrived against lesser competition (which is most of their schedule to date) and struggled against better teams (i.e., Pitt and Florida). Ole Miss is easily the best offensive team they will see this season. Stopping them even once is easier said than done.
This game will likely be a lot like last week’s Ole Miss-Arkansas game. The Tennessee offense is not as explosive as the Arkansas offense, but it is good enough to score on the Ole Miss defense. There is a chance the Tennessee defense could slow down the Rebels, maybe even stop them on a drive or two. But Matt Corral is going to get the Ole Miss offense in the endzone.
So—how should you bet?
The safest bet is the over. The total is high, but with the potential each offense has, it is not hard to imagine both teams getting into the 50s. As for a winner, the safe bet in that regard is probably Ole Miss via the moneyline. However, if you are okay with a bit of risk, go ahead and take Tennessee and the points.
If you are okay with a lot of risk, take the Volunteers via the moneyline (but the potential payout may not be worth the risk).