The Third Saturday in October has come around the corner, and all Vol fans know what that means: It’s Alabama weekend. The Vols come in at at a lowly 3-3 (0-3 in SEC) while rival Alabama sits at a perfect 7-0 (4-0 in SEC). Obviously, the Vols are at a distinct disadvantage this year. Alabama is a 36-point favorite and has a 97 percent chance to beat Tennessee by some odds. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at both teams and decipher if there’s a way Tennessee can be competitive.
Hurts is rolling and the Tide defense is as stout as ever
The Crimson Tide simply look as dominant as possible on the field. Alabama has steamrolled past every opponent (save Kevin Sumlin’s squad in College Station), and the Vols are now in the Tide’s way.
Jalen Hurts has been everything Nick Saban wanted in a starting quarterback. His mobility is still his strong suit, but he has also advanced his passing aspects to make his game scary good.
With a little over 1,000 yards passing and an 8:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Hurts is managing the and winning the game for the Tide. Not only is he passing well, but he is Alabama’s leading rusher with 558 yards and 6 touchdowns.
On defense, Alabama looks typical of how every Saban defense looks. The unit has accounted for 13 forced turnovers (three fumbles, 10 interceptions). With a defense allowing only 10 points a game (second-best in the country), Alabama has a defense that is looking more and more like the group in 2010 that just flew around on the field.
With the No. 9 scoring offense in the country and an elite defense, the Crimson Tide are essentially squared up to make Tennessee call mercy.
The Vols have had few ups to their downs this season. Among other downs, Tennessee lost on a Hail Mary against Florida, survived a scare against UMass, was drubbed by Georgia and then fell in final-second drama to South Carolina. The Vols have simply had it rough.
That’s not to say they don’t have a potential upside. John Kelly is still a monster at halfback, and it seems as though Jarrett Guarantano is the solidified starting quarterback after last week. A two-headed backfield of Kelly and Guarantano could make for a deadly mix against upcoming opponents.
Nevertheless, the Vols need to kick it into gear, especially against top-ranked Alabama. While everyone is saying this is a game that the Vols WILL lose, they need to at least go out there and play to their potential.
The Vols secondary was recently ranked No. 3 in the league. Will it be exposed on Saturday, or could the secondary potentially hold strong for the first few quarters? If Alabama’s passing game is shut down, can Tennessee make stops or hold the Tide’s run game?
Personally, I’m not sure how long Tennessee can hold on defense, but I don’t think Alabama can score on every drive.
It’s quite obvious who wins this game. Alabama has a near-97 percent (or so) chance to win and is favored by five touchdowns. Nick Saban might go easy on Butch Jones to keep him in Knoxville, but that’s unlikely. Look for Alabama to cover and potentially double the spread.
Alabama 66, Tennessee 6