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ESPN’s First Take Unanimously Picks Tennessee to Beat Alabama

Tennessee Alabama
Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt against Alabama. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee has certainly captured the attention of the college football world.

During a recent episode of ESPN’s First Take, the show hosts debated the upcoming game in Knoxville between No. 6 Tennessee and No. 3 Alabama. And by the end of the segment, all three hosts unanimously picked Tennessee to come out victorious. Even if there was some hedging going on.

“The easy answer is [Alabama is] not going to win this game if Bryce Young doesn’t play,” SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum said. “They are not equipped to. This is not a vintage Nick Saban team without Bryce Young. Last week they were lucky, lucky to win the game. It took really an amazing effort at the end to figure this thing out. They’re a troubled team at times. They’ve made 49 penalties. They don’t force takeaways. They don’t do some of the things that we are used to. And on offense, even with Bryce Young, guys, it’s not the same.”

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo agreed with the other show hosts, pointing to Tennessee’s offense as his reason for picking the Vols.

“Tennessee played great at LSU,” Mad Dog said. “They scored 40 points. They killed Brian Kelly. The quarterback is good. Heupel, (pointing to Finebaum) you know the area a lot better than me, but Heupel has done a tremendous job up there in Knoxville. Now they never beat Alabama. Every third week in October, they get killed every year. Big rivalry, they haven’t been a factor in this rivalry in a long time, that worries me. But I think this is the year Paulie, that they have an excellent opportunity to win this game.”

More from RTI: Tennessee Football Preview: Vols Host Alabama in Heavyweight Fight

And, lastly, even Stephen A. Smith went with the Vols. The longtime First Take host claimed that he has never picked against Alabama in four years, but with the uncertainty around Alabama’s quarterback, he’s leaning toward the home team.

And they’re going up against, who’s this quarterback, Hooker?” Stephen A. said. “Is that his name? Tennessee? He’s got like 10 touchdowns, he’s got no interceptions, he’s completing 70 percent of his passes. They’re playing with house money. Because the expectation is always that, guess what, they’re going to lose to Alabama. But they are at Tennessee. They are at Tennessee! This is not a game in Tuscaloosa, okay? And as far as I’m concerned, the Tide, roll tide, they need Bryce Young to roll. If they don’t, I have to agree with the Mouth of the South (Finebaum). I think Tennessee is going to knock off Alabama unless Bryce Young plays.

No. 6 Tennessee will host No. 3 Alabama this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET in Neyland Stadium.

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