The Alabama Crimson Tide continue their tour of destruction, this week heading to Knoxville for a date with the Volunteers. The Crimson Tide look like the team to beat in college football, yet again. Alabama enters at a perfect 6-0, with Ole Miss coming the closest to beating them with a 48-43 loss. Tennessee has the opportunity to give Alabama a run for their money this afternoon. The Vols almost caught them sleeping last season, as the Crimson Tide won a tight 19-14 contest. Alabama will have to wake up a little more this season, but they bring a competent quarterback to the fold this season. Alabama won the National Championship last season not because they had a great quarterback, the defense brought them there. And I must say, it’s always going to be their defense which gets them the cake. However, Alabama actually has a quarterback who can facilitate on the field in 2016.
Jalen Hurts seems to be a guy Alabama will be the first quarterback they have been able to count on since AJ McCarron. He’s shown plenty of poise and confidence as a freshman with an ability to generate yards through the air or ground. Hurts has thrown for 9 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions, including 296 yards rushing with an additional 5 touchdowns. Hurts has yet to throw an even touchdown to interception ratio, it’s always been in favor of the touchdowns. Against Arkansas he completed 76.5 percent of his passes with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.
It provides another dimension to this Alabama team. Yeah, they can run the ball effectively, but if Hurts continues to evolve, they’re going to have an offense impossible to slow down. They are certainly the most complete team in the nation at this point. What a matchup it would be with Alabama facing off against Michigan in the National Championship. Old school, smash mouth football, with a couple of teams who check off all of the boxes. When I look at Michigan I think of Alabama-lite in a way. Until they show they can beat a team like Alabama, I’m going to keep the lite tag there. For Tennessee, they could win today and be thrust right back into the discussion for the college football playoff. A 1 loss team with a win over Alabama would be enough to hop up in a large way. The Vols will do their best this afternoon to do just that.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Tennessee Volunteers NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Tennessee +14(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Alabama vs. Tennessee Pick:
Alabama hasn’t given us any idea that they’re not going to win the National Championship this season. Anything can happen, but with Hurts under center at quarterback, they even look better than they did last season. For a team with such an elite defense, the offense has been overlooked often. Let’s call it for what it is though, Alabama possesses a punch on the offensive side of the ball. The Crimson Tide are averaging 44.8 points per game and are 6th in the country in points a game. Their tough defense usually does a great job of setting them up with terrific field position all game long.
Alabama is rushing for 237 yards per game, 20th in the country. This number would be higher if they weren’t set up with such great field position so often. Bama is 14th in yards per rush. It doesn’t look great, but Alabama is 47th in passing yards per game, but when you look at it a little more closely it’s a big deal. They aren’t a pass-happy team, they primarily run the ball hard and play defense. So, 47th for a team like Alabama, it isn’t a bad mark at all.
My problem with Tennessee in this game is their linebacker core. Two of their superstars might be out for this one against Alabama. Senior All-SEC linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin has already been ruled out, and it appears that Darrin Kirkland is going to be a game-time decision. It doesn’t seem like he’ll be at 100 percent. Cortez McDowell stepped in for Reeves-Maybin after he was injured, only to be carried off the field in overtime. Freshman Quar’te Sapp tore his ACL earlier in the season, so he isn’t available either. I don’t think there’s any way that the Volunteers will be able to hold up against the Alabama offense with this linebacking unit in this shape. This should be a close game in the first-half, but in typical Alabama fashion, they should pull away in the 4th and win it by three touchdowns.
PICK: ALABAMA -14 (-110)