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Alabama Game Preview
The Third Saturday In October
Posted: Thursday, October 13th, 2016, 1:55 PM
by Josh
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Three games into the gauntlet and Tennessee damn near did it again. That was a crazy game. As most people who watch football know, when you turn the ball over 7 times and have 12 penalties, it is almost impossible to win. Despite that, Tennessee almost did just that against the number 8 team in the country at their stadium. That is why Tennessee didn't drop in the AP poll. The play call on Tennessee's first offensive play in the 2nd overtime wasn't great. I think they should have kept running the ball. Chavis had trouble stopping it all day. Instead Dobbs went for Ethan Wolf trying to replicate his touchdown against Florida and it wasn't there. Personally, I would have went for 2 after Tennessee's last touchdown in regulation but that's just me. Regardless, Tennessee was playing with house money last week. A win would have just been icing on the cake. They acquitted themselves well and if they can somehow win out, that game will not be held against them. A bigger issue is the Florida/LSU debacle. That game needs to be played or the SEC needs to only go by divisions this year. Those are the only fair solutions for the integrity of the SEC. Hopefully this fiasco doesn't end in Tennessee being screwed.

If Tennessee had won last week, they would have set up perhaps the biggest Third Saturday In October of all time. Even in the loss, this is still the biggest game against Alabama since probably 1996. In that game, Tennessee was ranked number 6 with a 4-1 record. Alabama was number 7 with a 7-0 record. Tennessee rallied from being down 13-0 to win the game 20-13. This year we have number 1 Alabama against number 9 Tennessee.

The Tide come into Knoxville scoring 45 points per game while giving up only 16. Alabama has only given up 95 points all year through 6 games. Alabama has rushed for 237 yards per game and 15 rushing touchdowns while giving up only 69 yards per game rushing. They have only surrendered 2 rushing touchdowns all year. Alabama has only given up 415 total rushing yards all season. That is astounding. Alabama is gaining 253 yards passing per game. They have 11 passing touchdowns and have only thrown 2 interceptions. If Alabama does have a weakness, it's their passing defense. They have given up 223 passing per game and they have surrendered 7 passing touchdowns. But they also have picked off their opponents 6 times. Alabama has a very good defense and a very good offense as usual. Whatever Tennessee gets, it will have to earn.

Tennessee's passing game has really improved during this gauntlet. Dobbs has averaged 316 yards per game passing with a 57% completion percentage and 8 touchdowns passing. And he really hasn't been running that much. He averages 54 per game rushing and only 2 rushing touchdowns. In other words, in these past 3 games, Dobbs has been winning (or putting Tennessee in a position to win) with his arm and not his legs. Tennessee's defense gave up a lot of big plays last week but they are still holding opponents under 400 per game on the season. They only give up 216 passing but have only had 5 interceptions.

So what is going to happen in this game? Offensively I think Tennessee will score some points and gain some yards. Alabama has a very good defense though so I expect them to limit Tennessee somewhat. One hope Tennessee has is that Dobbs has been much better passing recently and Alabama has been a bit suspect in the secondary. Even so, Tennessee has to be weary of interceptions because Alabama has done a good job of scoring on defense. Rushing yards will be hard to come by. Unless Tennessee makes a concerted effort to run with Dobbs, they probably won't have a lot of rushing yards.

Defensively, Tennessee has given up big plays and been gashed in the run. Jalen Hurts has been very good and he is a dual threat quarterback. But this will also be his loudest road game to date. Perhaps he will be rattled at some point. Kiffin is a really good offensive coordinator though so I expect that effect to be minimal. They will probably have a lot of rushing yards on Tennessee. It will all depend on how well Jalen Hurts handles the noise and Tennessee's pass rush to determine if Tennessee will have a chance. All of the injuries are very tough to overcome. Maybe Kirkland will return this weekend and that will help. Sutton being out has been a big loss for Tennessee. We just don't have any cover people that are as good as he is.

Last week I picked with my gut. This week I am picking with my brain. Tennessee has had so many injuries and they have to be tired at the end of this brutal 4 game gauntlet. A healthy Tennessee could maybe pull this off. But with all these injuries, I just don't see it.

Alabama 38
Tennessee 28

In other games...

Florida 27
Missouri 17

Ole Miss 35
Arkansas 31

Georgia 27
Vanderbilt 9

Ohio State 41
Wisconsin 20

Miami 31
North Carolina 27

Overall Record (19-20)

Tennessee's goals are still ahead of them if they lose to Alabama. Who knows what the SEC will do about Florida and LSU but you have to think that Tennessee will probably win out after Alabama. Florida still has to play Georgia and at Arkansas so they still have a good chance to lose. They may lose this weekend against Missouri. All will not be lost if Tennessee loses to Alabama. They will still have a chance at the SEC Championship. Just not the Playoff probably.

That's all I have for this week. For those who want, you can follow me on Twitter @Joshes_Blog

Have a great football weekend everyone. Stay safe. Go Vols and God Bless!

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