FOOTBALL PREVIEW: No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 3 Alabama

Photo Credit: Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics
By Chris Clark

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers (5-0) play host to the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0) Saturday in what is set to be an epic clash between two of the best teams in the SEC.

It will be the first time that the Third Saturday In October will feature two ranked and unbeaten teams since 1989. While both records are unblemished, it hasn’t come with ease for either squad.

The Crimson Tide are coming off a close win against Texas A&M last week in a game that saw them do very well on the ground and through the air despite being without Heisman candidate, Bryce Young, who was out due to a shoulder sprain injury suffered the previous week.

The Aggies threatened down the stretch and had a chance to win the game on their final possession but couldn’t score from the 2 on the final play securing the win for Saban and the crew. It was the second close game with an opponent in the Lone Star State who threatened to upset the favored Alabama as unranked Texas nearly gave the Tide an extremely rare early season loss back in week two in Austin. It’s the first time since 2008 that Alabama has wins by only single digits against two unranked opponents.

The Volunteers have also had their close encounters by way of Pittsburgh and Florida neither of which looks like a particularly strong win for the Vols given their respective seasons. However, Tennessee is coming off a strong showing down in Death Valley versus the LSU Tigers, 40-13. The game started with a special teams blunder from the Tigers allowing the Tennessee offense to score quickly and they never looked back.

The defense was dominant in a multitude of ways as they were able to apply pressure to quarterback Jayden Daniels all game and limited the LSU rushing attack to just 55 yards. It was the first win for the Vols in Baton Rouge since 2005. Now, Tennessee will look to break another streak. Alabama currently holds a 15-game win streak in this series and have dominated their opponent in every category.

The series has seen a few close games over the duration of the win streak, but Alabama has consistently found ways to get it done versus Tennessee.

This Saturday, the Vols will hope to end that with their highly ranked and high-powered offense. It’ll be up against future NFL star Will Anderson and the number two scoring defense in the SEC. Tennessee also hopes to see the return of all-SEC wide receive Cedric Tillman.

As for the Alabama offense, we still don’t know the status of Bryce Young. While backup quarterback Jalen Milroe did well in his first start for the Crimson Tide, throwing for three touchdowns, the Tennessee defense will be the better of the two he’ll see should Young still be out. If Young plays then the game will be a head-to-head matchup of Heisman candidates.

Tennessee and Alabama will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.