Time: 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT
TV: CBS (Check local listings)
Watch Online: CBSSports.com
Spread: Alabama is a 28.5-point favorite. The line is 29 in some places.
Total: The O/U is set at 57 in most locations, although it is 57.5 and 58 in others.
Records ATS: Alabama (4-3) | Tennessee (3-3)
The Alabama Crimson Tide–Tennessee Volunteers rivalry has gotten a bit one-sided recently. That’s probably putting it mildly. The last time Tennessee scored a victory over the Tide was all the way back on October 21, 2006. That day, the Vols came back and won after falling behind 13-6 going into the 4th quarter. A 27-yard field goal by James Wilhoit and then a goal line run by Arian Foster put the Vols ahead.
Nobody quite knew that day that the Tide would go on a ridiculous 10-year run of dominance over the sport of college football just two years later. But here we are, and ‘Bama has been unbeaten against the Vols ever since. The margin of victory has been enormous in most cases. The closest games were a 12-10 win in 2009 (Shout out to Mt. Cody) and a 5-point win in 2015 (Shout out to Derrick Henry).
Does Tennessee have a chance on Saturday to end those winning ways from the Tide? Probably not. I mean, have you seen Alabama this season? It’s no disrespect to Tennessee. The Volunteers have been playing much better week by week this season. Jeremy Pruitt seems to have this train going in the right direction. Especially after they put a scare into the Georgia Bulldogs two weeks ago on the road, and especially after scoring a road win against the Auburn Tigers this past weekend.
But ‘Bama is ‘Bama and expecting things to go differently would take a lot to go wrong. I mean, sure. College football is weird and wonky, and they technically have a chance. But expecting a Tennessee win is probably not the best move (but perhaps a trip to Cover Town is, at least realistic).
So, what should we expect from the Vols? Continued improvement from Jarrett Guarantano will be something to watch for. Guarantano threw two touchdown passes last week against Auburn and has been looking sharper lately. He hasn’t thrown an interception since tossing two against the Florida Gators last month. He’s completed 34 of his last 53 passes, good for a mark of 64.1 percent. His Y/A of 8.88 may jump out at you, well.
Of course, he’ll be playing a very stout defense. Alabama is allowing a completion percentage of just 50.4 percent this season, second-best in the SEC behind aforementioned Florida. They’re allowing just 189.9 yards per game through the air, as well. That’s to be expected with the talent they have across the board. So, Guarantano will have his work cut out for him. Tua Tagovailoa meanwhile? Well… yeah.
If there’s one area that Tennessee could maybe “exploit” it’s the ‘Bama run defense. They’ve allowed 126.7 yards per game this season. That mark is behind the Texas A&M Aggies, Missouri Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, LSU Tigers and Auburn in the SEC. It’s a little unusual for ‘Bama to be so… “ordinary” against the run, even if that still ranks within the Top 40 in the country. But the likes of Tim Jordan, Ty Chandler, Jeremy Banks and Madre London could get it going if they have the opportunity to.
That all being said… again, it’s Alabama. They’re likely gonna roll. This game could be fun for a little bit, but the likely result will still occur.