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THE FOURTH SATURDAY IN OCTOBER: David vs. Goliath, AVCIS staff predictions for Tennessee at Alabama

By; The All Vol Call in Show Staff


Graphic | John Dunn

The "third Saturday in October" has always been the annual head-to-head meeting between the two most storied programs in SEC history. Typically, its the day of the month that the Tennessee Volunteers take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. With October starting on a Friday this year, the game will actually be played on the fourth Saturday in October, but will still have the exact same feeling, as the two teams have extensive history.

The all-time series between Alabama and Tennessee currently sits at 57-38-7, with the Crimson Tide holding the advantage. The Volunteers haven't defeated Alabama since 2006, allowing the Crimson Tide to amass their longest winning streak of the all-time series at 14-games.

There have been close calls in years past. In 2009, former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin's squad had Alabama primed for defeat, before a blocked field goal saw the Crimson Tide escape with a slim 12-10 victory. In 2015, former Tennessee coach Butch Jones' squad fought Alabama to a 19-14 decision, as the Tennessee fan base was introduced to future star quarterback Josh Dobbs.

There have been more blowouts than close calls in years past, but with a suddenly high-powered offense, and a defense that is playing better than expected, does Tennessee stand a chance at toppling the might Crimson Tide of Alabama?

John Dunn (Managing Editor/Founder/Host)

It isn't too farfetched to say that there seems to be a cautious optimism heading into this game. Yes, Alabama is still Alabama, but it seems like Tennessee may be Tennessee again too. And by that, I don't mean the team that losses 63-7 to top-25 competition. I'm talking about the Tennessee from the "good ol' days." The same Tennessee that fought and competed week-in and week-out against the best of the best in college football.

While the Vols are likely a few years away from being back to national prominence, first-year head coach Josh Heupel has this team playing inspired football. Heupel's up-tempo, high-powered offense seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered for Tennessee's "petulant" fan base, as there seems to be a renewed sense of cautious optimism surrounding the football program.

Does Tennessee win this game? I don't think so. Can Tennessee win this game? Absolutely. While there are only 10 teams in the country that have a more potent offense than Tennessee, Alabama happens to be one of them, coming into the game with the nation's fourth-ranked scoring offense, averaging 45 points-per-game.

Texas A&M laid out a blueprint of how to upend Alabama, and Tennessee will have to slow down themselves, and the Tide if they want to get that done. I still feel like the Volunteers are just a short time away from ending Alabama's streak, but I also expect them to be much more competitive in Heupel's first attempt. If Hendon Hooker starts, and plays the whole game for Tennessee, this could shape up to be a better game than billed. Without Hooker, the game could potentially get out of hand.

Prediction: Alabama - 48 | Tennessee - 28

Dallas Bowlin (Junior Staff Writer)

It is no secret that the Crimson Tide have had the Volunteers number for the past 14 years, with 2006 being the last time Tennessee was able to get a victory against Alabama. In those 14 years, the margin of victory for the Tide has been an average of 21 points. Had Hendon Hooker not gotten injured last weekend against Ole Miss, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that maybe the Vols could score a few points, and maybe keep it close for a couple of quarters, but with Hooker potentially out and Joe Milton having to presumably take over the starting quarterback role, I just don’t see Tennessee being able to score enough to keep it close to a competitive game.

Prediction: Alabama - 54 | Tennessee - 17

Joe Davis (Junior Staff Writer)

Lets face it, last week wasn't fun for Tennessee. Now, the old adage is: "don't lose the same game twice." The problem here is even after Saturday's massive heartbreak/debacle/chaotic scene, it would be very easy to say the team is set up for a let down. It's hard to blame the previous Saturday on what's happening in Tuscaloosa this coming Saturday.

Tennessee has shown fight this season that has brought passion and love out of the fan base. But for a roster this thin when healthy, and even thinner due to injuries, it's going take a lot of luck against Alabama to be there at the end of this one.

If Hendon Hooker is healthy come Saturday, the Vols can hang around, with a little bit of luck. If Joe Milton starts, bet the Tide to cover.

Prediction: Alabama - 42 | Tennessee - 20

Landon Hiter (Junior Staff Writer)

The Volunteers travel to Tuscaloosa with the most competent team they have had in years. Tennessee has the scoring capability to realistically score with Alabama as the game goes on. The key will be keeping control of the football, and creating turnovers and stops on third down whenever the opportunity presents itself. The Volunteers will have a much harder task if Hooker misses the game with injury.

Prediction: Alabama - 45 | Tennessee - 38

William Allen (Senior Staff Writer)

The Tennessee defense is #4 in the SEC in tackles with 505 through seven games this season, and leads all Power Five teams with 62 tackles for loss. The exciting combo of Banks, Beasley, Jackson, Baron and Flowers lead Tennessee (4-3, 2-2) in tackles and sacks. All the credit should go to Tim Banks and the Tennessee defensive coaching staff.

Offensively for Tennessee, coach Heupel has his players believing in his swag while playing with a sense of urgency. Quarterback Hendon Hooker has been electric this season and has been seen practicing this week after an injury in last week's game versus Ole Miss. If Hooker isn’t ready to go, look for Joe Milton to start, with Harrison Bailey as the backup quarterback.

The fourth ranked Crimson Tide (6-1, 3-1) are fresh off a big win against Mississippi State with linebacker Will Anderson's four sack performance. Former Tennessee linebacker Henry To'oTo'o leads Alabama with 54 tackles while sophomore quarterback Bryce Young is a Heisman front runner, throwing for 2082 yards and 24 TD’s. Nick Saban's team has 14-wins in a row versus the Vols on the third Saturday in October, and are looking to add another win this Saturday in Tuscaloosa at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Prediction: Alabama - 44 | Tennessee - 28

Zac Strickland (Junior Staff Writer)

It may not feel like Alabama week, with the lingering aftermath of the heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss, but it is indeed Alabama week. The Tide are mostly a juggernaut as usual, although they have shown chinks in the armor in a surprising loss to Texas A&M and a near loss to Florida. Bryce Young is the likely Heisman winner as a redshirt freshman, and the Tide rely on running back Brian Robinson, and a bevy of elite receivers to put up prolific numbers.

Defensively they have continued to force sacks and turnovers, although they are slightly more prone to giving up yards and points than in years past. Linebacker Will Anderson leads the SEC with 7 sacks, and the defense as a whole has picked off 10 passes. For the Vols, I just don’t like the matchup defensively. Tim Banks has done an outstanding job doing more with less, particularly in holding Ole Miss to 31 last week, but Bama just has too much firepower for the Vols to hang with them for 60 minutes.

If Hooker can go, perhaps UT keeps up for a half; if not, well, it may be a good idea to find another way to spend your Saturday evening.

Prediction: Alabama - 52 | Tennessee - 21

1 Comment

Terry Housley
Terry Housley
Oct 25, 2021

New AD/HC has elevated recruiting and a more inspired quality of play and should see a bright and more competitive future against top tier programs. It is hard historically to fairly compare teams this day and time with rivals since factors often are based on many variables (coaching continuity, recruiting and development).

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