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Strong Opinion – OVER (68) – TENNESSEE (-16 ½) 49 Missouri 28
Missouri runs their offense at a very fast pace and Tennessee’s pace is faster than average so I expect a lot of plays to be run 171 projected and a lot of points to be scored by two good offensive teams that are not good defensively.
Missouri’s games against FBS teams have averaged a total of 58.2 points, which doesn’t seem like much until you compare it to the 50.3 total points that their opponents have combined to average. So, Missouri games are 7.9 total points per game higher than average. Tennessee’s FBS games have averaged 59.1 total points per game in regulation (I took out the points from their 2 overtime games) while facing a schedule of teams that combine to average only 50.0 total points per game, so the Vols have been 9.1 points higher scoring than average when compensating for their opponents. Missouri is +7.9 in compensated total points per game and Tennessee is +9.1 points in total points, which would project to a game that is +16.0 points higher scoring than average. The national average is 55.8 points per game in regulation, so that would project a total of 71.8 total points.
The line isn’t too far off based on a points model but points are variable and my model based on compensated total yards and plays projects 78 total points in this game. The variance with Missouri’s offense, which has averaged 6.1 yards per play (against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl) and 469 total yards per game (against teams that combine to allow 388 yards per game) yet has averaged only 25.9 points per game, which is below the national average of 27.6 points (in regulation). It makes no sense that Missouri should be 1.7 points below the national average in scoring when they are 69 yards and 0.36 yppl higher than the national average. There are a few points of value towards the over based on the variance in Missouri’s scoring and Tennessee is a better offensive team now that vastly overrated running back Jalen Hurd has quit the team to transfer. I’m sure the coaching staff was ecstatic about that development given that Hurd has averaged a pathetic 3.7 yards per rush while young and talented backup running backs Alvin Kamara and John Kelly have combined for 847 yards at 7.1 ypr. Excluding the stats from their game against FCS team Tennessee Tech and replacing Hurd’s compensated yards per run with the compensated ypr of Kamara and Kelly would results in a boost of 0.5 yards per rushing play, which equates to an increase of 2.5 in a game in which Tennessee if projected to run the ball 52 times. In their first SEC game without Hurd, the Vols ran for 410 yards at 10.5 yards per rushing play last week against Kentucky and Tennessee is projected to run for 377 yards at 7.3 yprp today against a Missouri defense that can’t stop the run. The Tigers have given up an average of 263 ground yards per game at 6.1 yprp and Joshua Dobbs is projected to add 260 yards at 7.3 yards per pass play.
Missouri has an offense that has been 0.7 yards per play better than average this season and they should post better than average numbers against a mediocre Tennessee defense that’s yielded 442 yards at 5.9 yppl against teams that would average 5.9 yppl against an average team. My model is projecting 1152 total yards on those 171 plays and that would lead to 78.4 points. But, even the points-based model, adjusted for Tennessee’s upgrade in the ground game, would project 74.3 points even if you don’t adjust for the negative variance in Missouri’s scoring. I’ll consider the Over a Strong Opinion at 70 points or less.
The math actually only favors Tennessee by 17 points but the Vols apply to a very good 200-95-4 ATS late season home momentum situation, which makes laying 17 or less a positive expected value investment.