Heavy betting action, ‘99%,’ on underdog Volunteers against Georgia

  • Joined ESPN in 2014
  • Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008

The No. 1 team in the nation is an underdog and attracting extremely lopsided betting action in one of the most heavily bet college football games of the season.

Top-ranked Tennessee heads into the weekend as an 8-point underdog against No. 2 Georgia. The Volunteers and Bulldogs will square off Saturday between the hedges in Athens, Georgia. Tennessee is the first No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff rankings to be an underdog in the regular season since Mississippi State in 2014.

“The betting action on this game is one-sided and all of the interest is on the Vols,” Joey Feazel, lead college football trader for Caesars Sportsbook, told ESPN on Thursday.

“Georgia might be our biggest need of not just the week but the season,” Seamus Magee, sports trader for BetMGM, added in a company release.

As of Thursday at Caesars, approximately 87% of the money bet on the game’s point spread was on Volunteers — that’s despite the largest bet placed on the game, $50,000, being on Georgia -8.5. Bigger bets, some from professionals, are expected as kickoff approaches.

“The $50,000 bet that came in on Georgia on Sunday was respected money, and the line has since moved in the opposite direction, which is rare,” Feazel added. “I expect to see some late sharp money on Georgia if the line gets closer to seven.”

The action was lopsided on the Volunteers at sportsbooks around the nation. FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM each were reporting greater than 85% of the money bet on the game was on Tennessee. The betting percentages, of course, are even more lopsided at sportsbooks in the Volunteer State. DraftKings reported that 99% of the money wagered on the moneyline — the odds to win the game outright — was on the Volunteers at its Tennessee sportsbook.

Tennessee bettors also have been backing the Volunteers to capture the national title and for senior quarterback Hendon Hooker to win the Heisman Trophy. At FanDuel in Tennessee, 72.4% of the bets on the odds to win the national championship are on the Volunteers, who began the season as 100-1 long shots. Hooker was also a long shot to win the Heisman Trophy but has emerged as the consensus favorite. At BetMGM sportsbooks in Tennessee, 75% of the money bet on the odds to win the Heisman Trophy is on Hooker. He has attracted only 12% of the money wagered nationally.

“Hendon Hooker is pulling away from the rest of the field,” Feazel said. “If he pulls off this upset win over Georgia, it will be very difficult to make case for anyone other than Hendon as the recipient of the of the trophy.”

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