The leaves are beginning to turn. The weather is beginning to cool off. The fall semester is beginning to wind down. Just another lazy third Saturday in October, huh? Not if you wear orange and reside in the hills of Tennessee.
There is nothing lazy about the third Saturday in October. That date has been reserved for a long standing rivalry. It's Tennessee/Alabama week. The Vols are hosting the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide and there is nothing lazy about it. Houston Nutt once famously said, "This is a two chin strap league." Regardless of what you think of Nutt, he's spot on. And anyone who has played the Tide this year and their bruising running game and tenacious defense, will attest to that. You better believe Tennessee knows they better strap them both up. The problem is, Tennessee is coming off a 41-31 loss to Mississippi State, the first since 1994. Their head coach is having to coach from the box due to hip surgery, which may or may not matter. And the Tide seem to be picking up steam with each passing victim...err...opponent.
Alabama comes in sporting the number one defense in the country. Tennessee's offense is at least top 25. Alabama has yet to face as potent as passing attack as the Vols. Nonetheless, their pass defense is only allowing a 50% completion rate and 125 yards a game. Tennessee's offense slings it around at a rate of 299 yards a game. Something has to to give.
I'm usually not one to drown you with stats, but the most telling one is that Alabama is averaging just over 40 points a game and Tennessee is allowing 43 points per game to its SEC foes. Not good. The issue is, Alabama does it on the ground which does two things: it wears down the defense, and it keeps the offense on the sideline. If Tyler Bray and Co. aren't on the field, they can't score. And if they can't score, they can't win. Period. The Volunteer defense isn't anywhere close to being good enough to keep them in this game.
Honestly there is not much more to say about Alabama that has not already been said. Even Tennessee head coach, Derek Dooley, spent some time this week in the department of redundancy department," They've absolutely annihilated everybody they've played, physically and on the scoreboard." There it is. Second verse, same as the first.
Just another lazy day in October.