No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Saturday October 15th, 2016. 3:30PM (EST)
Where: Neyland Stadium Knoxville, T.N.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -12.5/UT +12.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
The Tennessee Volunteers magic ran out last week with their first loss of the season at the hands of Texas A&M in overtime. However, the Volunteers did not go down without a valiant effort. For the 3rd week in a row, the Volunteers rallied from a double digit deficit to score 21 points in the 4th quarter to push the game into overtime. For a moment, it appeared that the Volunteers would pull out another miracle win just as they had in the previous two games most notably with a Hail Mary on the final play against Georgia. However, quarterback Joshua Dobbs tossed an interception in the 2nd overtime that put a lid on the Volunteer’s hopes over another magical win. While the loss stings, the season can still become magical if the Volunteers can find a way to rebound this weekend when the no. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide come into Knoxville for an epic showdown at Neyland Stadium.
Even before the season began as the expectation around this year’s football team grew, Tennessee had this Saturday’s game with Alabama circled on the calendar. Then with the recent big comeback wins over Florida and Georgia, it appeared the Volunteers could be on the verge of something even bigger than a breakout season. While those hopes were dashed a bit last week, the Volunteers could cause a shift in power with a win over Alabama on Saturday. Make no mistakes about it, every Tennessee player and fan knows how important this game is this Saturday. It’s Tennessee’s shot to prove they have officially returns as a national power and an upset could also set the Volunteers up for a run that would take them to the SEC Championship Game in December that would have College Football Playoffs implications on the line.
I know we are getting way ahead of ourselves by looking so far down the road but rest assured that is what is at stake this Saturday and every person in the state of Tennessee knows it. So how can Tennessee pull off this monumental upset? Well the Volunteers match-up fairly well against Alabama or at least better than most teams should I say. The key in this game for Tennessee starts and stops with quarterback Joshua Dobbs. As seen in the 2nd half of the Florida game, at the end of the Georgia game, and even at the end of the Texas A&M game, this offense relies on the arm of Dobbs. He has been bad at times this year and he has been great at times with a 58.3 completion percentage that entails 14 touchdowns and 8 picks.
So what Joshua Dobbs will we see on Saturday? It is hard to guess but I do know Alabama is vulnerable to strong quarterback play. In the two games against the best quarterbacks Alabama has face to date, Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly and Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen combined for 51 of 88 passing for 821 yards and 6 touchdowns against the Crimson Tide defense. Therefore if Dobbs can play like he is capable of playing, Tennessee definitely has the firepower to beat Alabama but it is going to take a full effort from everyone.
Despite the numbers that Alabama’s defense has given up through the air, the defense has been as good as anyone against the run. Additionally, Alabama’s defense has found ways to produce turnovers all season and they have scored 7 defensive touchdowns already this season. In fact, the defense has often times sparked the play of the offense. Alabama’s 7 defensive touchdowns leads the FBS by a large margin with Ohio State in 2nd with 4 defensive touchdowns. Therefore, I think that is something to watch when you consider the fact Tennessee has been one of the worst teams in the country with securing the football. The Vols have given up 16 turnovers this season which ranks 126th in the FBS.
If Tennessee makes those mistakes this weekend, Alabama is going to capitalize off of every opportunity. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is starting to really get a hold of this Alabama offense and this offense is deadly on the short side of the field. Running back Damien Harris is averaging over 8 yards per carry and wide receiver Calvin Ridley has emerged as the “go to” guy on the outside. I am sure Tennessee’s defense will be motivated by the home crowd and will probably play really well early. However, Tennessee’s offense has to do their part to protect the ball or it will all be for nothing.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Tough game to pick because I know Tennessee is going to be jacked for this game. However, I just cannot look past the turnovers and mistakes Tennessee keeps self-inflicting. If they continue to do it this week, Alabama will make them pay and there will not be any chance at 2nd half miracles. Consider it a small play but take Alabama -12.5
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