If all you know about Josh Heupel coming off of not playing is what he has done with Tennessee Football, you already have plenty of reason to be encouraged. In each of his first two years with the Vols, Heupel has faced ranked teams on the road after byes…and he’s won both of them.
Not only has Heupel won both of them. He has covered the spread, beating the LSU Tigers by an astounding 27 points last year and beating a higher-ranked Kentucky Wildcats team 45-42 the week before. However, Heupel’s success off a bye doesn’t start on Rocky Top.
Since becoming a head coach, Heupel is 7-1 coming off bye weeks. His one loss was when he was with the UCF Knights, and it came to the Memphis Tigers in 2020, 50-49, on the road. Memphis, for what its worth, was the defending AAC Champions, and that was the COVID year.
A deeper dive to Heupel after weeks off in general, though, makes him look better. When you factor in bowl games and openers, Heupel is 15-4 after at least two weeks off weeks off. Most notably, he is 11-7 against the spread in such games. That includes his last four such games with Tennessee Football.
Speaking of spreads, detractors may say he is 3-4-1 against the spread coming off a bye week. However, you have to dive a bit deeper into that to look into such facts. Two of the times he failed to cover, and the one push, all came when the other team was coming off a bye as well.
Next Saturday, Tennessee Football won’t be facing a team that was coming off a bye. In fact, they’ll be facing a Texas A&M Aggies program that suffered a hard-fought loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. They’ll also be hosting them, and Heupel has never lost a home game off of any layoff.
So how has Heupel performed after a layoff in which the other team played the week before? Well, he’s 6-0. Included in that is his 2020 opener against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, as GT played the week before. At the same time, he’s 4-2 against the spread.
It’s worth pointing out that the spread takes into account coming off a bye, so Heupel having that record is even more impressive overall. Simply put, what he does coming off any sort of rest is remarkable, and that bodes well for Tennessee Football when Texas A&M comes to town this weekend.