Josh Kendall

Despite turmoil, Tennessee still favored to beat South Carolina

South Carolina heads to Neyland Stadium on Saturday to play Tennessee as an underdog, but there are reasons to believe the Gamecocks might top the Volunteers. We talked to’s David Purdum about those reasons and about what he calls an “extraordinary” line elsewhere in the SEC.

Have you seen much movement on this line this week?

You could have found it as low as Tennessee minus-1.5 on Sunday when the Wynn in Las Vegas put it up. It is now 2.5 across the board. That one point move though is not very significant. Until you get to the number of three, which obviously is a key number, that kind of one point move is not significant. A pretty ho-hum line so far this week.

Tennessee looks a lot like a team that is in collapse. How do the sports books factor that into their decisions about the opening line?

It’s not easy for sure and you will find they tend to downplay the emotional aspects of it and just kind of look again at talent, what talent is on the field. A lot of people think that is an advantage for bettors though. Your guess on the emotional impact a team has is as good as the book makers. They obviously are going to focus more on those power ratings, the talent on the field. The outside things that are anybody’s guess, they are going to let the bettors kind of quantify that.

Alabama is a 30.5-point favorite at home over Arkansas. What does that tell us about the Razorbacks and the SEC?

That’s an extraordinary line for SEC play, especially against an Arkansas program that has had success in the past. I think it’s a little bit how good Alabama has been and a little bit how bad Arkansas has been. Alabama was a 24-, 25-point favorite at A&M last week. Obviously, they did not cover that spread in a game that was much closer than a lot of people thought but coming back home and getting an Arkansas team that was manhandled by South Carolina, 30 points, that’s pretty eye-opening.

For coaches like Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Arkansas Bret Bielema, who are already on the hot seat, does the kind of embarrassment caused by lines like that hurt their cause even worse you think?

Oh absolutely. You know the fans are aware of the point spread, probably more than Bielema is. That just adds fuel to the fire to be a 30-point underdog in conference play. Gosh, that really just shows how much the gap has grown between Alabama and the rest of the conference.

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