The Alabama-Tennessee game, traditionally played on the third Saturday in October, is one of the great rivalries in all of college football. The two teams have played 101 times, in the Nick Saban era this series has been decidedly in favor of the No. 1 Crimson Tide. Saban is a perfect 12-0 against the Vols since arriving in Tuscaloosa, winning the last two meetings by a combined score of 103-28. Former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt leads Tennessee into this game — his second against his former boss — after beating Mississippi State 20-10 at home last Saturday.
Can Pruitt and the Vols put together a gameplan to stop the Tide on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa? Let’s take a closer look at this game and make some expert picks.
Alabama: For all the talk about LSU in the last week, Alabama sure would like to remind us that it is the No. 1 team in the country, not the Tigers. The problem for the Crimson Tide has not been the performance but the opponents, leaving them short on quality wins when compared to the best teams in the country. All the Tide can do is continue to overwhelm opponents until those potential quality wins show up on the schedule, which this year won’t be until the much-anticipated LSU game next month.
Tennessee: After last year’s 58-21 loss to the Tide, Pruitt challenged his Tennessee team and the leadership in the locker room. The Vols need commitment to details and executing at a high level not just to avoid getting embarrassed in a rivalry game, but to build up the habits they’ll need to pull off a midseason turnaround and chase bowl eligibility. Tennessee is 2-4 through the first half of the season and could likely be 2-5 after this game, requiring a 4-1 record against South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt to make it to the postseason.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 19 | Time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Bryant-Denny Stadium — Tuscaloosa, Alabama
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Game prediction, picks
Don’t overthink this and believe you are going to be savvy backing Tennessee because of the big number in a rivalry game. Even Alabama’s backups are going to be putting touchdowns on the board in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. Pick: Alabama (-34.5)
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