It’s the fourth weekend in October, which means the annual rivalry game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Tennessee Volunteers is being played a week late. Of course, we are lucky that the game is being played at all this season after sports shutdowns for half the year . The #2 Crimson Tide are listed as a 21-point favorite on the road with an over/under of 66 points.
Any concerns about Alabama’s play early in the season were answered in the second half of last week’s game against Georgia. The Crimson Tide pitched a second half shutout on their way to a 41-24 win over another top-5 team.
Alabama is now the only undefeated team in the SEC, putting them in the driver’s seat for a trip to the SEC Championship. Also, while the Crimson Tide will play a few fierce rivals between now and the end of the season, there isn’t a ranked team left on their schedule.
The Volunteers season is spiraling out of control, making this the worst possible time to play Alabama. Jeremy Pruitt’s team started the season 2-0, which only added to the preseason optimism in Knoxville. Tennessee had hoped to contend in the SEC East this year, but back-to-back losses to Georgia and Kentucky have derailed those talks. To make matters worse, three of their six remaining games are against top-10 teams.
The Volunteers scored over 30 points in each of their first two games. That offensive output led some to believe that senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano had finally turned a corner. However, the Tennessee offense could not have looked worse over the last two weeks, including getting shutout in the second half of the loss to Georgia.
The Vols also managed just one touchdown against rival Kentucky a week ago, putting the Tennessee offensive output at seven total points over their last six quarters. Opposing defenses have actually scored three touchdowns in those six quarters, after Guarantano threw a pair of pick-sixes in the first quarter against Kentucky.
This week, the Vols are getting an Alabama defense that got a huge confidence boost after shutting out Georgia in the second half of last week’s win. There were growing concerns about Nick Saban’s defense after the Tide gave up 48 points to Ole Miss. Last week, the Alabama defense looked a lot more like the units we’re used to seeing from the Crimson Tide.
Alabama had a quarterback and two receivers selected in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft., yet the Crimson Tide offense might be better than it was a year ago. Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, and John Metchie form the best wide receiver trio in the country and Najee Harris is one of the top running backs in recent program history, racking up 500 yards and 11 touchdowns in four games.
The Tennessee defense has played well this season, considering the lack of support from the offense. They were solid against the Georgia rushing attack, and limited Kentucky to less than 300 yards last week. However, the Vols still aren’t among the elite defenses in the SEC.
Saban has never lost to one of his former assistant coaches, and that record should remain perfect this week against Pruitt, a former Alabama defensive coordinator. Pruitt and the Vols may not have an answer for all of the talent on the Alabama offense. Tennessee surely doesn’t have the kind of offense that can keep up in a track meet with the Tide.
Bet on Alabama to win and cover against Tennessee.