The No.1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) will host the Tennessee Volunteers (3-3, 0-3 SEC) on Saturday. Alabama has beaten UT in 10 consecutive games and get them at a fragile state right now. Butch Jones is trying to avoid dropping to an 0-4 record in the SEC for the second time in his five-year tenure at UT. A bad showing in this game could be the end of the road for Butch in Knoxville.
This might not be the best game for the Tennessee offense to get back on track. They have struggled mightily in SEC play, averaging an SEC-low 9.7 points per game, seven less points than the second worst. They have only scored two touchdowns in their three conference matchups.
On the other hand, Alabama has only given up 7.8 points per game.
Tennessee has not been able to find an identity on offense yet.
When getting the ball in his hands, John Kelly has been one of the best running backs in the SEC. He put his ability on display against Florida’s defense, rushing for 141 rushing yards on 19 carries. He also added six catches for 96 yards.
He has struggled a little the last two weeks against two very good rush defenses in Georgia and South Carolina, but Tennessee must find a way to keep giving him the ball. Especially, with redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano making his first career road start.
Guarantano completed 11 of 18 passes for 133 yards last week in his first start. He can manage the game against Alabama, but making him beat Alabama in the air would not be the wisest game plan for the Vols.
Even though Alabama has only allowed two yards per carry in the SEC, Tennessee must stick with the run early to avoid pressure on Guarantano.
One place Tennessee has really been stout at is their secondary. They lead the SEC with allowing only 141.7 passing yards per game. They should be able to stop Jalen Hurts in the passing game, but they may have a problem containing him on the ground.
Alabama is sitting atop the SEC in almost every rushing category. They are averaging over 350 rushing yards per game, have 17 rushing touchdowns in four games and are averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Tennessee’s rush defense has been pretty average this year, which will probably not fare well against this offense.
Tennessee just gave up 194 rushing yards to South Carolina, a team who was struggled to run the ball effectively this year.
AJ Turner TD RUN for South Carolina pic.twitter.com/SzbsNlkLyg
— CFB Videos (@247CFBNation) October 14, 2017
Expect Jalen Hurts and Damien Harris to have big days and for Butch Jones’ seat to get even hotter.
Spread and Game Time
As of right now, Bovada has Tennessee as a 36-point underdog and the game’s over/under is 51 points.
The game will be aired on CBS at 3:30 on Saturday.