No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1 SU, 2-4-1 ATS) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date and Time: Saturday October 25th, 2014. 7:30PM EST
Where: Neyland Stadium Knoxville, T.N.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -17/UT +17
Over/Under Total: TBA
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Nick Saban and the 4th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide silenced critics in a big way last week. After losing a tough road game to Ole Miss and then edging out Arkansas by a single point, Crimson Tide fans were on edge and Saban publically voiced his frustration about their fans expectations. Whatever those expectations might have been, rest assured the Crimson Tide exceeded them last week in a 59-0 thrashing over no. 21 Texas A&M in an absolutely dominating performance. The win solidified the Crimson Tides remaining hopes of still contending for the SEC Championship despite tough matchups with no. 1 Mississippi State and no. 5 Auburn on the horizon. This week the Crimson Tide will embark on another two game road trip starting in Knoxville against the Tennessee Volunteers in a primetime matchup on ESPN2.
The Volunteers find their selves in a rough situation having lost 4 of their last 5 games SU which includes all 3 SEC contests thus far this season. Last week the Tennessee offense was man handled by a no. 1 ranked Ole Miss defense which resulted in a 34-3 blowout loss in front of the home crowd. The Volunteers offense was held to just 191 total yards and converted just 3 of 16 3rd down conversions. To make matters even more embarrassing, the Volunteers did not gain any rushing yards through the entire game. Thats right the Vols finished with 0 rushing yards for the entire game which is the first SEC team to accomplish such a feat since Florida in 2011.
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Anytime teams fail to run the football effectively they are asking for trouble but especially in the SEC where the ground game is so critical against so many talented defenses. Yet Tennessee has struggled tremendously to run the football averaging 94 yards per game as a team which ranks 120th in the FBS as one of the worse rushing teams in the country. As you can expect the inability to run the football along with a subpar passing game has been the blunt of Tennessees struggles thus far this season. They have been unable to keep the offense on the field and that has resulted in their defense wearing down late in ball games which was very evident last week against Ole Miss as the defense gave up all 34 points in the last 35 minutes of the game.
This Saturday Tennessee appears unable to escape their troubles against an Alabama team that has a nasty reputation on both sides of the ball. The Crimson Tide own the 3rd best scoring defense in the country giving up just 13.1 points per game. The offense is playing the best it has in several years under new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. In fact, Alabama currently ranks 26th in the FBS in passing (290ypg), rushing (223ypg), and scoring (36.9ppg). For the first time in ages, the offense is just as efficient through the air as they are on the ground with quarterback Blake Sims. Sims has hit 66% of his passes for 1,748 yards with 13 scores and just 3 picks on the season. Meanwhile tailbacks T.J Yeldon and Derrick Henry have already combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing with 7 touchdowns. Throw in WR Amari Cooper in the mix and the Crimson Tide offense has big play threats all over the field. Therefore if Tennessee is not able to keep their offense on the field and sustain drives, it is going to be a long afternoon for the Vols defense. Unfortunately, Tennessee has yet to prove they can move the football on the ground and quarterback Justin Worley is pretty average at best. Not a good combination for the home team this week.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: As said above, I just do not see any scenarios playing out where Tennessee can stay in this football game. Despite the 2-4-1 mark ATS this season, Alabama still plays disciplined football and does not turn the ball over much which is something Tennessee does not do very well. I think Alabama mirrors the Rebels winning margin from last weeks 34-3 victory over the Vols in decisive fashion. Take Alabama -17