Tennessee (3-3) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0)
Saturday, Oct. 21st, 3:30 ET
Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821) • Tuscaloosa, AL
Series Record: Alabama leads 54-38-7
Setting the table
Tennessee’s offense is at an all-time low. Alabama has been steamrolling opponents this season. The Vols might be on the verge of making a head coaching change shortly after this game. Nothing points to this game as being competitive, and the 100th meeting between these two teams could be one of the most lopsided in the rivalry’s history.
Who has the edge
When Tennessee throws…
Jarrett Guarantano showed a flash of his potential on Tennessee’s final drive against South Carolina last week, but he still failed to make a huge impact in his first career start. He didn’t turn the ball over, though, and that was something Quinten Dormady was doing at an alarming rate before Guarantano was named the starter. Alabama’s defense will easily be the best that Guarantano has ever faced, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him cough up the ball for the first time in his career. Edge: Alabama
When Tennessee runs…
John Kelly is a stud. But as the Vols have shown time and time again, he has very little help. At least when it comes to anyone who gets more than five touches a game. Ty Chandler has been a play-maker when he’s gotten carries and catches, but he’s only averaging about five touches a game. Of course, none of that really matters in this game. Tennessee’s out-matched offensive line will likely be dominated by the No. 1 run defense in the SEC. Edge: Alabama
When Alabama throws…
Jalen Hurts isn’t the most dynamic passer in the SEC, but he’s effective in what the Tide ask him to do. He’s dangerous on the ground, but he has a good arm too. Calvin Ridley is a match-up nightmare, but there aren’t a ton of great and proven options besides him. The Vols have actually had success stopping the passing game this season, but Alabama is a different breed of offense. Edge: Alabama
When Alabama runs…
Tennessee’s defensive numbers when it comes to stopping the run are still a little skewed because of the Georgia Tech game, but even without that game the Vols would likely still have the worst rushing defense in the SEC like they do now. Alabama’s rushing attack is the best in the conference. They average over 300 rushing yards a game between Damien Harris, Jalen Hurts, Bo Scarbrough, and others. The Vols could be bludgeoned on the ground in this one. Edge: Significantly to Alabama
On special teams…
Special teams is actually the one area where Alabama hasn’t been truly dominate this season. They haven’t had much consistency in their return game, and they have the lowest punting average in the SEC. Only half of their kickoffs have gone for touchbacks too. Evan Berry is currently questionable, but if he can return, he might be Tennessee’s lone hope of scoring a touchdown in this game if he can take one of the many kickoffs he’ll receive back for a score. Edge: Tennessee
Best-case scenario for UT
Realistically, the Vols aren’t winning this game. But the absolute best-case scenario for Tennessee would be for them to do the unthinkable and pull off the massive upset. More realistically, however, the Vols would leave Tuscaloosa without getting embarrassed and somehow make the game respectable.
Worst-case scenario for UT
Losing to Alabama is almost a guarantee at this point. But it would be worse if Tennessee gets absolutely embarrassed and sets a record for futility in the process. The Vols haven’t scored a touchdown in 10 quarters. Getting shut out for the second time in the same season would be an all-time low.
How we think it’ll play out
There’s a minute chance that Tennessee can make this a competitive game. Alabama has the ability to dominate the Vols in just about every phase of this game, and Nick Saban could likely name his score if he doesn’t want to have mercy on the Vols. Tennessee will be lucky to end their touchdown drought in this game.
Nathanael: Alabama 49-6
Will: Alabama 48-6