For those of you unaware and enjoying your summers without giving much thought to the fall just yet, the gambling site 5Dimes recently opened with initial lines for a couple of 2015 Tennessee football games. The Vols are a three-point favorite against Oklahoma, a point and a half favorite against Arkansas and most importantly for the purposes of this article, four-point favorites on the road at Florida on Sept. 26.
I'm sure everyone is aware of the current hex the Gators currently hold on Tennessee, I won't go into detail as Will eloquently detailed the current history of the "rivalry" today, but needless to say it's not been pretty for the Vols.
One of the main purposes of these opening lines is to gauge the public money and see where the majority of fans and professional gamblers place their money. The lines will adjust accordingly as the games gets closer.
The current offseason hype that the Vols are receiving is clearly driving these lines, as Tennessee is the favorite in all three games that they could just as easily lose as they could win. While the Gators are in the mist of their first offseason under Jim McElwain and have personnel issues with uncertainty at quarterback, receiver and offensive line. The Gators' offensive line has become such a concern for Florida that the Gators just accepted Fordham's starting left tackle to come start for them next season. Derek Barnett against an FCS offensive lineman? Yikes.
Tennessee fans are all too aware what can happen when you mix together questionable quarterback play with an inexperienced and immature offensive line, the dangerous mix seems to happen to the Vols every three seasons these days. But even when the Gators have huge question marks entering the Tennessee game, players seemingly always emerge against the Vols, typically ripping out the hearts of Vol Nation only to recede back into the abyss from whence they magically appeared and are never heard from again.
For those not familiar with standard practices of gambling, all things being considered equal, home teams generally will receive a three-point swing for having home field advantage. So Tennessee being a four-point favorite on the road against Florida indicates that the oddsmakers think the Vols are seven points better than the Gators at this point.
Projecting ahead on the schedule to the matchup on September 26, Tennessee will have played Bowling Green in Nashville, Oklahoma and Western Carolina both at home. The first and third game should be no problem but the Sooners beat the Vols by 24 last season and now are projected as an underdog heading into Knoxville? While I certainly could see Tennessee winning that game, at this point it seems like the game could go either way. If Tennessee does in fact lose the game, that will swing the line in the Florida game in the Gators' favor. Meanwhile, the Gators play New Mexico State and East Carolina at home before heading to Lexington to face Kentucky. As bad as Tennessee has been against Florida, Kentucky has been even more pathetic, currently losers of 28 in a row against Florida. So let's safely assume Florida faces Tennessee at 3-0.
A 2-1 or 3-0 Tennessee at 3-0 Florida game will not have a point spread of +4 for the home team, I guarantee you that. If anything, the line will be -1 Florida or possibly +3 Florida if Tennessee loses to Oklahoma. That's the whole point of grabbing the four-points for Florida now while you still can. The line is going to shift in their favor as we get closer and closer to the game.
If you bet on the Gators now and they win their 11th in a row in the series you will win money. If you bet the Gators now and Tennessee edges out a three-point win (or fewer) you still win money. The only way you don't win is if Tennessee wins by more than four points. I propose you bet as much money you would be willing to give up to see Tennessee annihilate Florida, either you walk away with a nice chunk of change in your pocket after an annual let down game suffered by the Vols, or you lose some money but Tennessee finally ends the streak by destroying the Gators in front of their fans. Either way you win.
What have you got to lose?