Week 9 - Tennessee at Alabama

Posted Oct 23, 2013

Week 9 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Tennessee at Alabama

- Kentucky at Mississippi State | Vanderbilt at Texas A&M
- Tennessee at Alabama | South Carolina at Missouri
- Furman at LSU, FAU at Auburn, Idaho at Ole Miss

Tennessee (4-3) at Alabama (7-0) Oct. 26 3:30, CBS

Why You Should Give A Hoot: At the moment, it's not about whether or not anyone can beat Alabama, can anyone score on the D?

It's seems like years ago since Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans were doing their thing in the wild shootout with the Tide in College Station, and since then, the results haven't been pretty.

Alabama has been so good, it's making winning seem boring. While SEC favorites were dropping left and right last weekend, the Tide got off the bus, stretched out, and whacked Arkansas 52-0 without really breathing hard. Granted, the schedule hasn't been brutal, with LSU coming up in a few weeks and the date at Auburn to close things out, but no one's even coming close.

How dominant has Alabama been? Even with decent teams in Ole Miss and Arkansas on the slate, the Tide have won their last five games by a total score of 201 to 16, or an average of 40-3, allowing six points to Colorado State, three to Georgia State and seven to Kentucky – it's all working.

However, Tennessee is starting to play really, really well since getting its doors blown off in Oregon and losing at Florida.

The Vols lost a 34-31 heartbreaker to Georgia, and followed it up by fighting through 23-21 program-changing – maybe – win over South Carolina last week. This is still a rocky team with an unsteady offense and shaky D, and it has a massive task to deal with, but it's playing just well enough to potentially give the Tide a scare.

Alabama has won six straight in the series, mostly in blowouts, with Tennessee coming up with its last victory in 2006. Before that, it was all Vols, winning nine times in ten years.

Why Tennessee Might Win: Is it possible that Tennessee can attack the Alabama offense and be disruptive? The Vols have cranked up the intensity up front, doing a fantastic job of getting behind the line on a regular basis and coming up with plenty of tackles for loss. The run defense might not be stellar – Georgia was able to run for 238 yards without Todd Gurley – but it comes up with its share of stops. Alabama is able to come up with the spectacular from time to time, but it's more about the methodical. The Vol defense has just enough talent up front to hold its own early on.

Why Alabama Might Win: Playtime is over for the Tennessee offense. It's not like it lit up South Carolina, with little pop to the passing game and a mediocre day on the ground, but it was helped in a huge way by a +2 turnover margin and a huge day from the secondary. Alabama has turned the ball over just four times all season long, and AJ McCarron has been deadly accurate, hitting on 70% of his throws, and he hasn't thrown a pick in a month. Alabama isn't going to give Tennessee the breaks on one side of the ball, while the other side that hasn't allowed more than 160 rushing yards in four games isn't going to have much of a problem with the middling Vol ground game.

Who To Watch Out For: Welcome to the 2013 season, Amari Cooper. The All-America-caliber Alabama receiver was under wraps for the first part of the season with just six catches in the first two games, but he was banged up. The big play target who scored 11 times last season finally caught his first touchdown pass of the season last week against Arkansas, and now Tennessee needs to be ready. Last year, Cooper whacked the Vols for seven catches for a season-high 162 yards and two touchdowns.

- At 6-2 and 285 pounds, Tennessee's Marlon Walls has 3-4 end size and decent toughness against the run. He's a big, versatile option who could step in at tackle if needed, but he's better using his bulk to get to the quarterback. He's not a pure pass rusher, but he came up with 2.5 sacks last week against South Carolina and has been a steady part of the Vol defensive front. He has to hit McCarron once in a while.

- How amazing has the Alabama scoring defense has been? It has allowed 14 points or fewer in six of the seven games this season and 30 of the last 34 games. At the moment, Louisville, Florida State and Michigan State are the only other teams allowed fewer than 14 points per game, and no one else is giving up fewer than 11. Alabama leads the nation allowing 9.7 points per game.

- Tennessee opponents have only connected on 7-of-13 field goal attempts. Alabama opponents have hit 4-of-5.

What Will Happen: More of the same. The Alabama offense will be balanced and effective, with a few big pass plays here and there to open things up, while the defense will bother Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley and won't give up 14 points. Again.

Prediction: Alabama 38 … Tennessee 10
Line: Alabama -28.5 o/u: 52.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Counselor – 1 Last Vegas) … 3
Buy tickets for this game at TicketCity