Thursday, October 23, 2008

Alabama-Tennessee Preview and Prediction

Alabama 7-0 at Tennessee 3-4
Saturday 7:45 PM
Line: Alab -5

The rivalry between Tennessee and Alabama has always been a heated one and it may be the hottest it has ever been for Phil Fulmer. The Volunteers are just 3-4 and in danger of missing a bowl for the second time in three years. Meanwhile, it is national title talk for the 2nd ranked Alabama Crimson Tide who have survived back to back scares after a demolition of Georgia three weeks ago.

Alabama Offense vs Tennessee Defense
HC Nick Saban does not make any secrets about what he wants to do on offense. He wants to hand the ball off and lets his o-line manhandle you. He will throw in some passes to keep you off balance, but the Tide are at their best when they can control the line of scrimmage. QB John Parker Wilson is having an excellent senior season after getting a big, new toy to play with in true freshman WR Julio Jones. The o-line has at least two All SEC players led by T Andre Smith and anchored by C Antoine Caldwell.

Tennessee thought they would have a pretty stout run defense this season and they have allowing under 3 ypc on the ground thus far in 2008. But they will face their biggest test of the year stopping the run. S Eric Berry may be the best defensive player in the SEC, but he needs some help in the secondary. Surprisingly, the Vols D has actually played better on the road than at home giving up 30 more ypg in Knoxville.

Tennessee Offense vs Alabama Defense
QB Nick Stephens replaced Jonathan Crompton three weeks ago and has held onto to the ball much better than his predecessor with 0 INT so far. However, the Vols offense is still anemic especially in the passing game where they are averaging under 200 ypg. Lennon Creer is the latest tailback to get a crack as he split time with starter Arian Foster in last week's win over Miss State. The o-line has been a huge disappointment for a unit thought to be one of the conference's best in the pre season.

Alabama has a huge hole to fill in the middle of the defense this week as they will be without massive DT Terrance "Mount" Cody. The Tide's defense is predicated on pressure from the line allowing LBs to fill gaps and stop the run which they are doing at 66 ypg. The pass defense stats are a little misleading considering Alabama had led every minute of 2008 until Ole Miss briefly jumped out 3-0 last week. It will be interesting to see how Alabama adjusts with out their anchor inside.

These two teams are pretty even on defense, but Alabama is some much farther ahead on offense. This may end up being Fulmer's last stand even though a decision may have already been made on his future. If the Vols are to upset the Tide, they will need turnovers and a breakout game from their offense. I just cannot see that happening from the seven games I have seen this season.

Alabama 28 Tennessee 13
Alabama Covers -5

Last Week: 2-1 ATS, 3-0 SU
Season: 20-7-2 ATS, 20-9 SU


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