The Third Saturday in October is upon us with Alabama looking to take care of Tennessee as they have every year since 2006. Given the gulf in class between the two schools it is hard to see that changing this year.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Cope with the loss of DeVonta Smith
There isn’t much that has gone wrong for Alabama on offense this season. Tua Tagovailoa has looked like he is throwing the ball around his backyard, throwing touchdown after touchdown to an assorted cast of stunningly effective pass catchers. It really hasn’t looked fair at times.
Tagovailoa will be without one of his main weapons for a half this weekend when he will have to continue to do his work without DeVonta Smith. Smith was ejected in the fourth quarter of the
Texas A&M game for throwing a punch and will serve a first half suspension because of it. His 38 catches for 636 yards and nine touchdowns will be missed.
Get after the quarterback
The Tennessee quarterback situation is a bit of a mess. Jarrett Guarantano started the season under center, but he was benched for freshman Brian Maurer to try to spark the offense after some lackluster performances. Maurer suffered concussion in the game against Mississippi State, so his status for this one is uncertain.
Whoever slots in at quarterback must be pressured by the Bama defense. These aren’t mobile threats in the style of Kellen Mond, who again gave Bama fits last week, but more pocket passer types who Saban has had plenty of success facing over the years. That will continue on Saturday.
Just keep being Alabama
The Crimson Tide hasn’t lost to an unranked team in 87 games. The last lost was back in 2007 against Louisiana Monroe. This is a streak that is an FBS record, the likes of which we have never seen anything close to before.
The Vols are a more than five touchdown underdog in this one. The reason Alabama keeps beating unranked teams is because Nick Saban simply doesn’t allow let down games. That is why you never see Alabama stub their toe like Georgia did against South Carolina last Saturday. Saban, one of the greatest game day coaches in the history of the sport, will again get his men through this one.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 8 PM CT. Watch on the ESPN Network.