Las Vegas Sun

January 24, 2018

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Vegas Play of the Day: Utah State at Tennessee


Wade Payne / AP

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, center, celebrates with Tennessee defensive lineman Malik Brown (90) and his son, Alex Jones, after defeating South Carolina 23-21 in an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 in Knoxville, Tenn.

I’ll generally try to avoid picking games in the South Point-lined Play of the Day, which started with bankrolls of $10,000, that I’ve already written about elsewhere.

But on the rare Sunday with just two football options, it was inescapable this time around.

Tennessee minus-4.5 vs. Utah State: $330 to win $300

The line keeps dropping to strengthen my initial lean to Tennessee. The trimming of two points — the spread was as high as minus-6.5 earlier in the week around town — makes this a value play on the Volunteers.

Utah State has the best player in senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Tennessee might have the next handful of the game’s most valuable assets if they were conveniently ranked in the list.

The Volunteers also have more than 102,000 genuinely optimistic fans filling Neyland Stadium. Tennessee sold out its home opener for the first time in five years, a testament to the talent coach Butch Jones has attracted in an attempt to turn around the program this season.

Utah State has handled comparable situations in the past, covering and nearly beating Oklahoma and Auburn in season-opening road games within the last four years. But the expectations were different then. No one called for the Aggies to go in and beat those teams.

Now everyone seems to be siding with them to knock off the less-daunting Volunteers, going as far as to risk their money on it. The moment the overlooked underdog becomes the trendy sleeper is the moment I choose to go in the other direction.

Standings: Bern (44-33-1, $13,427), Keefer (38-41, $10,062), Brewer (31-44-3, $1,700)

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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