Since 2011, Alabama is 5-0 against Tennessee and has won those games by an average margin of victory of 23.2 points per game. However, the last two games have been decided by a total of 19 points. Last year, Alabama won 19-14 in Tuscaloosa and in 2014 the Tide won 34-20 in Knoxville.
The Crimson Tide are coming off of an impressive 49-30 road win over Arkansas. Alabama utilized a balanced attacked and rolled up 517 total yards of offense (253 passing, 264 rushing) on the Razorbacks. Alabama is averaging 44 points per game and is rushing for 237 yards per game along with passing for 252 yards per game through the air this year.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts is maturing each and every week in the offensive system. Entering this game against Tennessee, Hurts has completed 63% of his passes for 1,242 yards with 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Hurts is a dual threat signal caller that has rushed for 256 yards on the ground this year and added 5 touchdowns. He will be making back to back conference road starts and this game is his first rivalry game against the Volunteers.
Running back Damien Harris leads the team with 478 rushing yards averaging 8.6 yards per carry with one score. The offensive line has done a great job of opening up holes for the running game which has put the offense into third down and short situations.
Alabama is converting 48% of their third down attempts and will look to attack Tennessee over the middle of the field on crossing patterns.
Wide receivers Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart have combined for 52 receptions for 737 yards with 4 touchdowns. Both players have the speed to take the top off of the defense and will look to attack a suspect Volunteers secondary this Saturday.
Defensively, the Crimson Tide boast the most physical defensive front seven in college football. Alabama is allowing 70 rushing yards per game and is giving up 223 passing yards per game to opposing offenses.
Alabama is holding opposing offenses to 31% on third downs and has recorded 23 sacks on the season.
Alabama does an excellent job of forcing turnovers in big games and has been able to score off of those turnovers. Last week against Arkansas, the Tide had 100 yard interception return for a touchdown which seized momentum late in the fourth quarter.
Alabama enters this game +5 in turnover margin and +2 on the road.
The Volunteers were living on borrowed time after their amazing three week run that saw the team come back from deficits against Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M. However, on the road in College Station the team surrendered to a more physical Texas A&M Aggies team.
Entering this game, the Volunteers are averaging 33 points per game and are rushing for 192 yards per game on the ground along with passing for 239 yards per game through the air. Tennessee has not been able to play a complete game of football this season. It has either been a great first half or an explosive second half performance that has propelled this team. Against the defending National Champions, the team must bring their best performance from start to finish.
Tennessee’s offensive success will hinder with quarterback Josh Dobbs. On the year, Dobbs has completed 58% of his passes for 1,433 yards with 14 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Dobbs has played much better in the pocket over the last two games, but must find receivers on underneath routes this weekend and not force balls into coverage against the Tide’s attacking secondary.
Tennessee will need to utilize Dobbs on the perimeter in the run game. Over the past two years, Dobbs has been able to put pressure on the Tide’s attacking defense outside and will need to play the same way this Saturday if the Volunteers are to get the upset.
Running back Alvin Kamara (former Alabama player), total 288 yards of offense in the loss last week to Texas A&M. Kamara showcased his skills in the short to intermediate passing game against nickel backs and linebackers. Look for the offense to utilize him the same way against the Alabama defense.
Wide receivers Josh Malone and Jauan Jennings will need to stretch the Tide’s secondary early on to open up running lanes for Dobbs and Kamara. Both players have combined for 34 receptions for 622 yards with 8 touchdowns.
Tennessee is converting 42% of their third down attempts this season.
Defensively, the Volunteers have been very suspect in run support. Tennessee is allowing 26 points per game and is giving up 183 rushing yards per game along with 216 passing yards per game. In last week’s loss, the defense allowed 353 yard rushing to Texas A&M and cannot afford that type of effort against the Crimson Tide.
The main problem for this team has been their inability to generate a pass rush. Through the first six games, the defense has recorded 9 total sacks. The team is – 3 in turnover margin and must be able to force turnovers on Hurts that can help out their offense.
The Volunteers are holding opposing offenses to 33% on their third down attempts and must be able to force third and long situations which can make Alabama one dimensional in key spots.
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