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Jumbo Package: Saban concerned about tempo of Tennessee offense

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Alabama vs Tennessee Photo by Kent Gidley/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. Alabama will host Tennessee tomorrow night. Your previews:

Alabama got right last week, and with Tennessee likely drained from the Ole MIss game, this should be a blowout. Saban likely won’t be inclined to show mercy to a program that recently found a way to fire his former longtime assistant, Jeremy Pruitt, with cause. Prediction: Alabama (-27.5)

Bama has won 14 straight going back to 2006, and the 12-10 victory in 2009 was the only close battle. At least this year’s Tennessee team seems like it has more ammunition to bring.

Just how sharply focused is Alabama? It got everything back to normal against Mississippi State, and it was almost flawless early on against Ole Miss to put the game away with a 35-0 start.

Can Tennessee withstand the early punch? No, and it’ll cause a whole slew of problems.

The Vols will score enough to at least make the Tide keep pushing, but the interceptions and turnovers will come – Bama leads the SEC in turnover margin – just as the running game takes over full-time.

Alabama 41, Tennessee 17

That’s more like it, Alabama. The Tide got back to their roots last week, crushing Mississippi State 49-9. Bryce Young showed why he’s a co-favorite for the Heisman, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns while the defense allowed 299 total yards and forced three turnovers. Alabama remains in first place in the SEC West but has no margin for error if it hopes to win the division and have a chance to return to the College Football Playoff. The Tide host Tennessee this week and opens as 27.5-point favorites. They haven’t lost to the Vols since 2006.

It can’t get more bizarre for Tennessee than last week, can it? The Volunteers lost 31-26 to Mississippi, missed out on a chance to stick around near the top of the SEC East and briefly became a center of attention in college football for all the wrong reasons (again). The Athletic’s Joe Rexrode captured the madness from Neyland Stadium here. There probably won’t be a repeat performance on Saturday, primarily because this game is in Tuscaloosa, and it shouldn’t be all that close.

Picks made at Alabama -27.5.

Score prediction: Alabama 42, Tennessee 17

If the Volunteers who are day-to-day can’t play, this could be an ugly game for Tennessee. The Volunteers have improved as a program under Heupel but still have a ways to go before competing toe-to-toe with Alabama.

A seventh championship remains a possibility.

So, you could say the Tide has something to prove when it takes on Tennessee at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. It needs to prove that its loss to Texas A&M and close call against Florida were flukes, and that the real Alabama was on display last week in a 49-9 victory over Mississippi State.

And when was the last time Alabama had anything to prove against a program that it has rolled over 14 consecutive times, usually without working up a sweat?

Alabama 44, Tennessee 17

As usual, that last one is from the Tennessee beat, in this case John Adams of the Knoxville News Sentinel. Tennessee fans have some well earned PTSD from Alabama beatdowns over the years, and by most any measure this game should continue that tradition. Of course, in just the past two weeks we have seen just how good and how bad this Alabama squad can be. The Tide will be playing against themselves through November. Which team shows up this week, and for the rest of the season?

Saban hasn’t given any indication that this week of practice showed any sort of complacency, and considering his candid comments from earlier in the season we should probably see that as a good thing. Tennessee has given Alabama a couple of well known scares in Tuscaloosa during the Saban era, but this week they are just too banged up to make a run at it. Call it Alabama 48, Tennessee 20.

Of course, that is just my opinion. Vote and give us yours in the comments.


What will be the result of Tennessee at Alabama?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Good old Floppy Top, Tide rolls by 28+
    (498 votes)
  • 36%
    Comfortable but a little ugly, Tide by 15-27
    (328 votes)
  • 5%
    Closer than it should be, Tide by 1-14
    (50 votes)
  • 2%
    Tennessee shocks the world (BANNED!)
    (19 votes)
895 votes total Vote Now

Michael Casagrande asks the question many have pondered about the Third Saturday.

“For us, it’s really important that we continue to build the culture and build our program,” he said. Absolutely it’s important to get a win in this football game and rivalry between the two schools. But for us, it’s about controlling the controllables and continuing to grow and to prepare in the right way. Our players continue to get better week by week and this is our next opportunity.”

Hold pressed a little harder. Was he positive this still counts as a rivalry given the losing streak?

“Yeah, for sure,” Heupel said. “The historic nature of it. Absolutely.”

It is a lopsided rivalry for sure, but a rivalry it is. Sorry Vols, but Alabama likes pounding you annually.

Saban thinks the speed of the offense will present a challenge.

— Tennessee is the fastest-running offense in the country, Saban said, noting they sometimes run plays with 32 seconds on the 40-second play clock. “It’s challenging to get that kind of look in practice because the scout team has to look at a card to know what play they run,” he said.

— Saban noted Tennessee has lost two close games and could be a one-loss team right now. “They have made improvements in every part of their team, in my opinion,” he said.

The big dudes up front are going to have to get lined up quick.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.