Alabama (6-0, 3-0) at Tennessee (5-1, 2-1)
When: Saturday, October 15th 2016
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Time: 3:30 ET | TV: CBS
The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will bring their opportunistic defense into Knoxville to take on the 11th ranked Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon. Alabama’s defense is scoring just about as many points as the offense after two more defensive scores in last week’s 49-30 victory over Arkansas. Sophomore cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick tied the Crimson Tide single-game record with three interceptions and returned one 100 yards for a touchdown and senior outside linebacker Tim Williams had a 23-yard fumble return score to give Alabama nine non-offensive scores (seven on defense, two on punt returns) this season and in eight straight games overall. The Crimson Tide have won 19 straight overall and will get a test from a talented Tennessee team who almost beat them last year (19-14). Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has accounted for 14 touchdowns (nine passing, five rushing) while being intercepted just twice. Sophomore running Damien Harris (team-leading 478 rushing yards, 8.7 yards per carry) and freshman running back Joshua Jacobs (307 yards, 8.3 average) lead the rushing attack.. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley has a team-high 34 receptions for 412 yards and four touchdowns.
The Volunteers stretch of comeback victories ended last week with a 45-38 double-overtime loss at Texas A&M for their first setback of the season. Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara, who redshirted at Alabama in 2013 before transferring, set a school record with 312 all-purpose yards (127 rushing, 161 receiving, 24 returns) against Texas A&M. Leading rusher Jalen Hurd (407 yards) was out last week with an undisclosed injury, but is expected to be cleared for Saturday. Senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs has passed for 1,433 yards and accounted for 19 touchdowns (14 passing, five rushing) but has also thrown eight interceptions. Junior strong safety Todd Kelly has a team-leading two interceptions and is tied with junior middle linebacker Colton Jumper for the team lead of 39 tackles. Junior defensive end Derek Barnett has a team-leading five sacks and nine tackles for a loss. The Vols have been weak against the run this season giving up an average of 183 yards a game on the ground – ranking them 86th in the country.
There’s no doubt that Alabama is the more talented team, but can they cover the 12 points on the road? Tennessee hung tough with Bama last year and are even better this year. I believe they will have some success running the football and if Dobbs can have a non-turnover game, Tennessee can win this outright. I’ll call for a close game. Bama will get Tennessee’s absolute best today.
Pick: Tennessee +12.5