Note: If you're looking for the 2012 Week 8 matchup between these two teams, please go here: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Tennessee Volunteers Pick.
Tennessee Volunteers (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) at No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0 SU, 6-1 ATS), Saturday October 22nd, 2011. 7:15PM EST, College Football Week 8
Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, Ala
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ten +28/Bama -28
Over/Under Total: OFF
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The no. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide appear to be on a collision course with top ranked LSU for not only the upper hand in the race for the SEC but also the upper hand in the National Championship race. While that game is two weeks away, the Crimson Tide will attempt to not get caught "looking ahead" this Saturday when they hosts the Tennessee Volunteers Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium. So far this season, the Crimson Tide have just been dominant blowing out opponents on a weekly basis. Last week, Alabama completely destroyed Ole Miss 52-7 in route to their 4th straight cover against the spread. This week the Crimson Tide will be huge 28 point favorites as they look to extend their streak of dominance.
Tennessee was another victim to that LSU team previously mentioned last week by a score of 38-7. The loss marked the first 0-3 start in SEC action dating back to the 1988 season for the Volunteers. This week Tennessee faces the eerie possibility of worsening that mark to 0-4 as they will be huge underdogs on the road in Tuscaloosa. The Volunteers have faced a lot of tribulations this season mainly on the offensive side of the football. QB Tyler Bray broke the thumb on his throwing finger two weeks ago against Georgia and is out indefinitely. QB Matt Simms filled in for Bray last week but completed just 6 of 20 passing for 128 yards and 2 picks. It was definitely not what Tennessee had hoped for from their backup quarterback and Simms will be up against another extremely talented defensive unit again this Saturday.
Before Bray was injured, the Tennessee passing attack was keeping the team competitive with other teams in the conference. The Volunteers have struggled severely in the running game this season averaging just 89 yards per game (114th in NCAA). Now without the threat of a passing game, the Volunteers offense is left searching for answers. Running back Tauren Poole may provide the best option in helping the offense. Poole carried the offense last year, but has not had much going thus far in 2011 with just 395 yards rushing on the season. However without much else prevailing in the passing game, the Volunteers may put more focus on the ground attack until Bray is recovered.
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For the Crimson Tide, they will be sticking to their same game plan that continues to dominate. The Crimson Tide defense has been the dominating factor for the team holding opponents to just 184 yards per game which is the best of any team in the country. The Crimson Tide rush defense is also the best in the nation holding opponents to just 38 yards per game and Alabama also sports the top scoring defense in American giving up just 7 points per game. Impressed?
Just from the numbers that the Alabama defense puts up, you can tell they are a dominating group. Of course the offense feeds off their success as well. Running back Trent Richardson is picking up steam with each passing week and emerging as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Richardson recorded his 6th straight 100 yard rushing performance last week against Ole Miss as he posted 183 rushing yards with 4 scores. On the season, Richardson is already up to 912 yards with 15 rushing touchdowns on the season and shows no signs of slowing down.
To make matters worse for opposing defenses, freshman QB A.J McCarron is progressing nicely. After a slow start, McCarron has completed 67% passing for 1,380 yards with 9 touchdowns and 2 picks. McCarron has protected the ball extremely well and that is just what the offense has to do to remain successful. WR Marquis Maze is the standout in the receiving core. Despite being just 5'10, Maze is a big time playmaker and leads the team with 34 catches for 376 yards on the season. Most opposing defenses sell out on stopping the run and that normally leaves opportunities in the passing game. Therefore if McCarron continues to play well, the offense will continue to strive as they have for the past several weeks.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I know 28 points is a lot to cover, but not really when you are only giving up 7 points per game. Tennessee managed just 7 points against LSU last week and they are going to be in for another similar challenge against a possibly even better Alabama defense this week. Plus the Alabama offense seems to playing better with each passing week. Take Alabama -28.
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