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Tennessee vs Alabama: Third Saturday In October

Saturday, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Tennessee Volunteers will renew their annual rivalry game, the Third Saturday In October.

When Alabama and Tennessee kickoff Saturday, it will be the 101st meeting between the two teams.  The Volunteers are riding high after their big win on the road at Auburn and have big plans to upset the mighty Crimson Tide.  Alabama will bring their high-powered offense to Neyland Stadium expecting to walk away with their 12th straight victory in this rivalry.  Here is a look at what Nick Saban and company bring to the table.

Offense

The Crimson Tide currently have the top-ranked offense in college football, averaging 567 yards/game.  At this point in the season, Alabama’s average margin of victory is 38 points.  They are throwing for 350.3 yards/game and gaining an average of 216.7 yards/game on the ground.

The leader of the Crimson Tide offense is sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.  Tua has thrown 21 touchdowns in the first 7 games with no interceptions and even has 2 rushing touchdowns.  One of the reasons he has been so successful is opposing defenses have only been able to bring him down 3 times.  If Tennessee wants to have any chance to slow down this offense, their defense will have to find a way to apply pressure.  They will be facing a defensive line that has only given up 5 total sacks this season so the Vols will have their hands full on the line of scrimmage.

The leading receiver for Alabama is sophomore Jerry Jeudy.  Jeudy has caught 26 passes for 705 yards and 9 touchdowns, the longest of which was for 81 yards.  Other notable receivers for this offense are DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III, Jaylen Waddle, and Irv Smith Jr.

As usual, they use a host of talented running backs.  The leading rusher is sophomore Najee Harris.  Harris has carried the ball 69 times this season for 439 yards and 4 touchdowns.  He is joined by Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs, Brian Robinson Jr.  Between these four running backs, they have scored 15 rushing touchdowns.

Defense

Defensively, the Crimson Tide are not quite what they were last season; although they are still ranked 15th in college football.  That being said, they are still a very good defense, holding opponents to less than 16 points/game.

Through the air, opponents are averaging just under 190 yards/game and the Crimson Tide have given up 10 passing touchdowns.

On the ground, opponents are averaging just over 125 yards/game; however, they have only allowed 3 rushing touchdowns.  Tennessee is going to have to be able to run the ball with some sort of success in order to open things up in the passing game.

Currently, they are ranked 12th in college football in sacks, recording 23 so far this season.  If the Volunteers want to have a chance at the upset the offensive line is going to have to find a way to slow down the pass rush and give Jarrett Guarantano time to throw.

The leading tackler on the team is red-shirt junior defensive back Deionte Thompson, who also has 2 interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.  The leading pass rusher is senior defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs.  Buggs has 7.5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.  Needless to say, the Tennessee offensive line will have their hands full trying to control the line of scrimmage.

About the Game

The Third Saturday In October is one of the most storied and bitter rivalries in college football in spite of the fact Tennessee has lost eleven straight.  Head coach Jeremy Pruitt seems to have his team heading in the right direction and if they expect to have any chance they will have to be firing on all cylinders.

One thing to keep an eye on is Nick Saban has never lost to one of his former assistants turned head coach and Tennessee has never lost to the same team 12 straight games.  One of these will change this weekend. Will the Third Saturday In October be the day Pruitt is able to get the Vols turned around or will he be another name in a long list of coaches who fails to beat his old boss?

Kickoff will be a 2:30 CT on CBS, tune in to find out for yourself.

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