Alabama entered Saturday’s showdown with the Tennessee Vols as double-digit favorites, according to a few lines.
The Crimson Tide tripled that margin by throttling Tennessee 49-10 in Neyland Stadium and extending their winning streak against the Vols to 10 games.
Here are a few takeaways from Saturday’s matchup of two top-10 SEC teams.
Alabama is King
There were faint whispers that this Alabama team had penetrable holes. On Saturday, they played nearly flawless football in a number of areas and silenced all the doubters. Not only did the Crimson Tide absolutely dominate arguably the strongest team in the SEC East, they thoroughly embarrassed the Vols across the board. From offense to defense to special teams to coaching, Alabama never relinquished control of Saturday’s contest and completely exposed every one of Tennessee’s deficiencies.
For the rest of the SEC West — and the entire NCAA for that matter — it’s still the Crimson Tide’s world. We’re all just living in it.
Tennessee offense with Jalen Hurd stalls
Tennessee’s offense gained nearly 700 yards without Jalen Hurd against Texas A&M last week. With Hurd back in the lineup against Alabama, the offense wasn’t nearly as effective, gaining only 163 yards of total offense. Most of that is credited to the Crimson Tide’s punishing front seven. As soon as Hurd or Alvin Kamara received a handoff, they found themselves surrounded by prowling Alabama defenders.
However, it’s worth noting how stagnant the offense looked with Hurd as the primary ball handler. While Hurd deserves credit for his ability to bruise through tackles, Kamara’s versatility presents more challenges for defenses. On the afternoon, Hurd finished with 16 touches and 27 total yards compared to Kamara’s 28 yards on 10 touches.
Defensive Line Dominated
The healthiest unit with the most depth on the Vols’ entire defense is the defensive line. Given all the catastrophic injuries in the back seven, immediate dominance from the front four is a necessity for Tennessee’s chances in any game, especially against an offensive line as potent as the Crimson Tide’s.
There were a few bright moments. Derek Barnett blindsided Jalen Hurts in the second quarter and set up the Vols’ only touchdown of the game. Later in the quarter, Shy Tuttle swatted a Hurt pass that eventually fell into the arms of Barnett.
Other than that, Alabama had its way with Tennessee’s defensive line. Anytime a team rushes for 438 yards and five scores, they’re clearly winning the battle in the trenches. As great as Barnett and the crew have been all season long, they all were overpowered and flat-out embarrassed.
Vols get much-needed bye week
The past four games have been described by Vol Nation as the orange and white’s “four-game stretch of doom.” All four games came against opponents who are either ranked currently or were ranked at the time of the game. Many predicted Tennessee would go 2-2 during the stretch, with both losses coming to the Aggies and Crimson Tide, and that’s exactly what happened.
Now, the Vols enjoy a much-needed week off before a much lighter back half of their schedule. They’ll likely use the time off to rest countless injured players and discover ways to begin games in a more effective manner.
Edited by Adam Milliken
Featured image by Sumner Gilliam