[title_box title=”Rocky Topics: Can the Vols upset Alabama?”]
Co-written by Jake Nichols
Before this football season started, most Tennessee fans with fairly reasonable expectations would have bet money that their team would be 5-1 at this point, if not 6-0. A record of 3-3 was not what most had in mind. And yet, it’s somehow okay. It’s okay because after the Vols dropped three very winnable games to three very talented teams, they rose from the smoke and ashes to snatch an upset victory from a Georgia team that was ranked No. 19 at the time. Needless to say, such a monumental victory has renewed the doubters’ hopes, and it has fueled the believers’ spirits.
This week on Rocky Topics, sportswriters Jake Nichols and Ben Woody debate whether the Vols can challenge Alabama on Saturday.
Nichols: With the Vols having two weeks to prepare and a confident edge after knocking off the ‘Dawgs, I believe that the Crimson Tide will need to watch its back, lest it get rolled by a Tennessee team looking to sneak into Bryant-Denny Stadium and run back to Knoxville with a win. A Tennessee upset over Alabama would have the polls reeling in confusion the week after. I believe Tennessee has the talent, and I believe that as a team and a staff, it has the drive. I believe that in dramatic fashion, the Vols will finally topple the unsuspecting Tide. The question is, do you?
Woody: Honestly, I did believe that Tennessee could upset Alabama. However, after watching them perform well at Texas A&M, I do not think that they will pull the upset. I think Tennessee will beat the spread, but unless they can overcome the injuries and other issues, this game may not be as close as we want it to be.
Nichols: Against Georgia, Mike Debord let Dobbs be himself. He had one of his best performances ever with 312 passing yards, 118 rushing, and accounted for all five touchdowns. Quarterbacks that can run often cause trouble for Nick Saban’s defenses. Tennessee also has one of the best, if not the best, special teams units with Evan Berry averaging 39.9 yards on kickoff returns and Trevor Daniel averaging 47.6 yards per punt. If the defense can overcome injuries and Dobbs has a nearly-perfect game, this one will be more of a shootout than expected.
Woody: Even though all of those points are true, Alabama is currently playing some of its best football. Heisman candidate Derrick Henry ran for a career-high 236 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries last week against Texas A&M. With injuries to the defensive front, Tennessee is going to struggle to stop Henry, especially since Alabama has one of the best groups of offensive linemen in the SEC. Alabama’s defense is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation in takeaways and will cause lots of trouble for Dobbs and the offense.
Featured image by Kevan Elkins
Edited by Cody McClure