Tennessee Volunteers (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS) vs. No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0 SU, 4-3 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date and Time: Saturday October 26th, 2013. 3:30PM Eastern
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, A.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ten +27.5/Ala -27.5
Over/Under Total: 51.5/p>
The Tennessee Volunteers scored a big upset in Rocky Top
last week by kicking a game winning field goal as time expired to stun the
no. 11 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. That win started a domino effect
around the SEC. By the end of the day, 4 other ranked SEC teams all succumbed
to losses. Needless to say the bizarre weekend could only be described as
‘upset Saturday’ in college football’s top conference. This week the team
that started that madness attempts an even bigger upset as the Tennessee
Volunteers travel to Tuscaloosa in hopes to knock off the top ranked Alabama
While the rest of the SEC may have stumbled, Bama has been persistent as the top team in college football. Since their shootout win over Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide has quietly destroyed the competition in their last 5 games by outscoring opponents 201-16 combined. While Alabama may not be getting the heavy media attention, the Crimson Tide just rattled off their most dominating 5 game stretch in school history and look poised to make a run at a remarkable 3rd straight BCS National Championship.
The biggest reason Alabama has been able to dominate opponents is because their defense has been spectacular. Not only has Nick Saban’s dynamic defense given up just 16 points in the last 5 games, but the defense has given up just 215 yards on average during that stretch as well. This week the Volunteers will have an opportunity to knock off a number 1 ranked team for the first time since 1985 under legendary coach Johnny Majors. However in order to do so, the Volunteers will have to find an answer to overcome that dominate Alabama defense.
The bad news is that the Volunteers are just 2-9 SU all-time against number 1 ranked opponents. The good news is that Tennessee has started playing really well. The Volunteers went toe to toe in an overtime loss to Georgia and then knocked off South Carolina last week. QB Justin Worley has avoided turnovers in recent weeks and running back Rajion Neal has been the workhorse. Neal has racked up 693 rushing yards with 8 touchdowns through the first half of the season with almost 400 of those yards coming in the last 3 outings. If Tennessee is able to establish the run again this Saturday, it will keep QB Justin Worley in more comfortable situations and perhaps prevent a few turnovers.
Of course running the ball against Alabama has not been easy over the years and perhaps even more difficult this season. The Crimson Tide has given up just 3.2 yards per rush and remain one of the best rush defenses in college football. If they are able to keep the intensity up on defense, Tennessee should have a tough time moving the football. Offensively Alabama remains committed to the ground with talented running backs T.J Yeldon and Kenyan Drake sharing touches. Both backs have combined for more than 1,000 rushing yards and have 7 touchdowns each. Tennessee has struggled against the run giving up 181 yards per game (83rd in FBS). Therefore if Alabama is able to control the line of scrimmage, they should be able to move the football fairly well and give QB A.J McCarron (1,587 pass yds, 14 TDs, and 3 INTs) the opportunity to make plays in the passing game down the field.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m sure Tennessee will be a popular pick in this game as they are receiving a ton of points following two strong showings against Georgia and South Carolina. However, the Volunteers will be leaving the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium and go on the road where they are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road trips. More importantly I like the way Alabama matches up against Tennessee and I believe the Crimson Tide defense puts together another dominating performance. Alabama has also been perfect as 3 to 4 touchdown favorites going 7-0 ATS over the last 3 years. Take Alabama -27.5
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