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Alabama was bigger favorite over Tennessee than Tennessee was over its winless FCS opponent. Bama covered.

The bookmakers knew what they were doing.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Alabama was a 36.5-point favorite against Tennessee on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. The Tide went ahead and won by 38, with a 45-7 final score.

The average Tennessee loss to Saban’s Bama had been 35-12.

It’s now gotten worse.

S&P+ projected a 39-11 Alabama win. Bettors project an even grislier result. This game featured the widest point spread in series history.

But it’s not just that. Tennessee wasn’t this big an underdog in any game since at least 1985, according to the database at It’s probably the most points Tennessee was ever expected to lose by in any game.

It was the second-widest line in the FBS this week. The widest is for Kansas-TCU, where the unbeaten Horned Frogs are favored by 37.5 at home against the 1-5 Jayhawks.

Usually, Bama performs up to (and over) expectations vs. Tennessee.

During what’s now an 11-year win streak, the Tide are 8-3 against the spread. One of those came when Tennessee was favored, in Saban’s mulligan first year on the job.

  • 2017: Bama -36.5, won by 38
  • 2016: Bama -14, won by 39
  • 2015: Bama -14.5, won by 5
  • 2014: Bama -20, won by 14
  • 2013: Bama -28, won by 35
  • 2012: Bama -19.5, won by 31
  • 2011: Bama -29, won by 31
  • 2010: Bama -17, won by 31
  • 2009: Bama -14, won by 2
  • 2008: Bama -5, won by 20
  • 2007: Bama + 1, won by 24

Tennessee has played Bama competitively (or approximating competitively) three times in 11 games.

Let’s add some perspective on how big a dog Tennessee was here.

And consider some other point spreads this season:

  • Penn State -30 against Akron
  • Auburn -34.5 against Georgia Southern
  • LSU -35 against Chattanooga
  • Clemson -38 against Kent State

Against Alabama’s three chief rivals (Tennessee, Auburn, and LSU) the only line in the last 20 years that comes close is Alabama as a 34-point favorite over Auburn in 2012. Alabama won that game 49-0 and covered the total (46) by itself.

And maybe the most instructive:

Bookmakers thought the difference between Tennessee and a still-winless-in-Week 8 FCS team was smaller than the one between Alabama and Tennessee.

Tennessee fans knew what was coming ahead of time.

From the game preview at Rocky Top Talk, SB Nation’s Vols blog:

I think Vegas tells us all we need to know here. Part that five touchdown line is the simple fact that Alabama is destroying nearly everyone this year. The other part of that is the fact that Tennessee hasn’t scored a touchdown in 2.5 games. It’s one team on a peak and another in a valley. You just have to hope Tennessee can keep it respectable.

Better days are coming — I hope. Lord knows we deserve it.

“Saturday is going to get UGLY,” reads one thread at the message boards. One Tennessee fan noted that a 40-0 score was a possibility.

“At the end of the 2nd quarter,” another responded.

It was only 21-0 at the half, as it turned out. Congrats, Vols.