The Auburn Tigers look to bounce back from a morale-deflating 9-23 loss to Mississippi State Bulldogs as they take on the struggling Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, 10/13/18 at the Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.
The Tennessee Volunteers are 2-3 on the season and are winless in SEC play at 0-2. Before taking a bye last week, the Volunteers lost to the Georgia Bulldogs 12-38 on the road. All of Tennessee’s three losses have been by blowouts and all of them have been by the same losing margin of 26 points.
Despite their struggles, Tennessee first year coach Jeremy Pruitt believes that the team is going in the right direction. If there’s such thing as a moral victory, they had that against Georgia where they cut the lead to 12 before the Bulldogs eventually pulled away.
Likewise, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano threw for two touchdowns without an interception against Georgia after throwing no touchdowns and getting picked off twice in his previous game against Florida. The Volunteers’ running game is ranked 67th in the nation with a 180 yard per game average. But that figure is deceiving because Tennessee had a big 345 yard running game outing in Week 3 against Texas El Paso.
The loss to the Bulldogs essentially eliminated the Auburn Tigers from SEC championship contention. Auburn is now 1-2 in conference play and even if they are going to beat Alabama during next month’s Iron Bowl, it won’t be enough to put them in the SEC Finals.
Auburn finished that game with 304 total yards and it was the fourth consecutive game where the Tigers were limited to only 350 yards or less of total offense. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham only has four touchdowns in five games while their running game has only been averaging three yards per carry. In total, the Auburn offense is producing just 20.4 points per game against FBS opposition.
But the Tigers’ offensive deficiencies were easy to neglect last month because their defense, ranked 4th in the SEC, allowed just a total of 63 points in five games. But if you dissect their schedule, Auburn played against mediocre offensive teams and a pair of bad offenses in LSU and Washington. Against Mississippi State, they were exposed. But with Tennessee just ranked 12th in the SEC in scoring, look for the defense to look good on Saturday, especially since Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano is not as mobile as Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald who burned the Tigers’ defense the last time out.
Auburn is 13-5 SU in their last 18 games, 16-3 SU in their last 19 games at home and 5-0 SU in their last five games played against Tennessee. The Tigers have also won 11 out of its last 13 games following a defeat.
The Tennessee Volunteers are 0-5 SU in their last five games played on the road and 3-10 SU in their last 13 games overall. The Vols have also lost 11 consecutive games against the SEC and have dropped their last six meetings to Auburn.
Tennessee had had two weeks to prepare for this matchup while the Tigers are still bleeding from their loss to Mississippi State but Auburn still has the better team, no doubt about that. If I am going to pick a winner, I will play safe and go with Auburn but at -600, they are too pricey so let’s take at the other bets for this game.
Tennessee is 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games, 1-4 ATS in their last five games versus the SEC and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games played in the month of October. On the other hand, Auburn is 16-5 ATs in their last 21 games against teams with a losing record, 3-1-1 in their last 5 games against teams with a losing home record and 6-2-1 in their last 9 October games. Against Tennessee, Auburn is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 meetings.
Auburn has won the last six games between these teams by an average inning margin of 13.17 points. This year though, Auburn has the 4th best defense in the SEC, allowing just 14.3 points per game. With Tennessee averaging just 26 points per game in conference play, the Tigers should be able to win by a bigger margin and cover the spread. Prediction: Auburn -15.5
The Under is 4-0 in Auburn’s last four games and also 5-0 in the Tigers’ last 5 SEC games. The total has also gone under in 19 out of the last 29 games of Tennessee after gaining 275 yards or fewer in their previous game and also under in the last four games after the Vols gave up 200 rushing yards in their previous game.
While Auburn is averaging 28.7 points per game this season, that figure is a bit inflated because of the Tigers’ 63 point performance in Week 2. In SEC play this season, Auburn is only averaging 21.7 points per game. I can’t expect the Volunteers to put up the remaining points to cover the 47 point total, not especially with a defensively good team like Auburn. Prediction: Under 47
No question who wins the game here. It’s Auburn for sure. But whether they are going to cover the spread or not really depends on how they’ve recovered from their loss to Mississippi State. Personally, I think they are going to bounce back and pour their frustration on Tennessee. But if you’re not sold on that, go with the under.