You know it’s bad when a former rival of yours feels the need to pump you up.
To say this has been a rough start to the season for Butch Jones and Tennessee would be a massive understatement. In Week 3, they stole defeat from the jaws of victory in a rivalry loss to Florida. A week later at home, they barely (17-13) got past a UMass team that enters this weekend winless. The following week, they were embarrassed and humiliated in a 41-0 woodshedding by Georgia. Week 7 brought a stinging loss to South Carolina.
At 3-3 overall and an unacceptable 0-3 in SEC play, Jones’ coaching seat is fully engulfed in flames, with nary a fireman in sight. Enter one-time Volunteers nemesis Tim Tebow — record vs. Vols: 4-0 — with the former Florida quarterback-turned SEC Network analyst offering up a passionate message directed at UT ahead of its showdown with rival Alabama.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 21, 2017
‘Bama opened as a 35-point favorite; with kickoff a little over an hour away, that number is up to 36.5.
Bovada.lv told CFT earlier this week that, over the last 31 years, the Vols have never been as large of an underdog as they are right now. Prior to a 23-13 loss, they were 30- point underdogs to Tebow-quarterbacked Florida in 2009. In 2011 and 2013, they were 29- and 28-point underdogs, respectively, to Alabama. They ended up losing both contests, 37-6 in the former and 45-10 in the latter.
In the previous 99 meetings between the rival programs, the Vols have lost by 35 or more points exactly four times. The first came in 1906 (51-0), the second in 1963 (35-0). The last two times? The 2013 game mentioned above and 2016 (49-10).