Why would you bet hundreds of thousands of dollars on Tennessee to win by more than 35?
That’s a question a bettor at BetMGM is surely asking after placing a $220,000 bet on the Vols to cover 35.5 against Bowling Green. Tennessee won the game easily 38-6. But the Vols didn’t win by 36 or more and the bet didn’t cash.
It’s hard to see why a bet on Tennessee was a great idea entering the game. UT was one of the worst teams in the SEC in 2020 and has a new coach in Josh Heupel. A bunch of talent transferred away from Knoxville in the offseason as well and it’s going to be a season of transition. Yeah, Bowling Green was perhaps the worst team in the MAC a year ago and didn’t look like it was going to improve much in 2021 … but five touchdowns? Really?
That line was really tantalizing to someone.
It was in danger from the start, too. Tennessee led just 14-6 at halftime before finally breaking the game open in the second half. But the Vols never came close to covering the spread. Tennessee got the ball back with less than three minutes to go and could have covered the spread with a TD … and fumbled on its final drive.
Marcus Pierce fumbled with less than two minutes left with Tennessee inside the BGSU 25. Was it a guarantee that Tennessee would have scored without the fumble? Of course not. But the fumble ended any chance of a UT cover.
UT did run the ball incredibly effectively outside of that fumble. Heupel realized that his team’s best weapon was its run game. Tennessee ran for over 300 yards as starting QB Joe Milton finished the game just 11-of-23 passing for 140 yards and a TD.
Had UT thrown the ball better it might have covered. But it’s hard to complain about a 32-point win in Week 1. Except if you threw away a lot of money thinking UT was going to win by 36.