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RTT Staff Picks: Alabama

The Vols are double-digit underdogs for the first time in a year, but the Rocky Top Talk staff is oddly confident. Can the RTT staff average pick the winner correctly for the 14th straight game?

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The Vols put up a valiant comeback, erasing a three-score deficit for the third consecutive week, but they were unable to finish in overtime, dropping a hard-fought 45-38 contest against Texas A&M in double overtime. Closest to the Pin goes to Incipient, whose 38-34 prediction was just three points off on the margin and nine off on the total (and just two points off the regulation total). This week, Tennessee welcomes the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to Neyland Stadium. The Vols are double-digit underdogs for the first time since the Alabama game last season. Can they pull an upset? Let's get to the picks!

Incipient (5-1 straight up, 4-2 against the spread): I hate to say it, but I see this game looking a lot more like the 2014 Alabama game than the 2015 edition. Tennessee has had a horrible run of injuries, and rather than getting a bye to recuperate, they're stuck playing the toughest opponent on their schedule immediately after three consecutive games against ranked teams. A banged-up defense isn't going to be able to prevent Alabama from piling up the points, and while I trust the offense to do much better than the 14 they scored last season, I don't see them erasing a fourth-straight three-score deficit. Alabama 41 Tennessee 27

Will (5-1 straight up, 4-2 against the spread): No one doubts Alabama's talent advantage; we can all read recruiting rankings. But since Dobbs was inserted midway through the first quarter of this game in 2014, Alabama has only outscored Tennessee 40-34. And Tennessee's offenses lit up Jeremy Pruitt's defenses at Georgia for 920 yards and 70 points in two games. Sure, there's more talent in Tuscaloosa by comparison. But there's also more talent in Knoxville, especially on the offensive side of the ball. There will come a point when the injuries on defense do become too much, and maybe this is that week. But the Vols are playing at such a high level right now, and Butch Jones is at his best when the Vols are this kind of underdog. In Knoxville, I'm taking Tennessee. Tennessee 34 Alabama 30

Joel (5-1 straight up, 3-3 against the spread): Alabama 38 Tennessee 34

Chris (4-2 straight up, 2-4 against the spread): We didn't come this far to turn back now, did we? Tennessee 45 Alabama 13

Hunter (5-1 straight up, 2-4 against the spread): Tennessee shouldn't win this game, but they will anyway. Hurts will make freshman mistakes and throw the ball up for grabs and Dobbs will play offense, defense, and special teams to secure the win. Tennessee 40 Alabama 35

Volundore (5-1 straight up, 2-4 against the spread): A week ago, I had a strange feeling that the Vols would fall flat against A&M before rallying to give Alabama fits. And then, despite another spirited rally, half of the already banged up defense went out and I became markedly more pessimistic about the Third Saturday in October. Can the Vols win? Sure! If they start well, don't turn it over, and hold Alabama to field goals when they get in the red zone, they might be able to score enough points to eke out an upset. The only problem with that line of thinking is that they've been down double digits in 5 of 6 games, lead the nation in fumbles, and have allowed touchdowns on approximately 47,291 straight drives in the red zone. No epic rallies this week. Bah humbug. Alabama 45 Tennessee 34

Justin (6-0 straight up, 2-4 against the spread): The past few years it seems we've braced for Bama to roll up 300 rushing yards on us and what happens? A new Tide receiver seemingly sets new Alabama records for receiving yards in a game. Yes, the Tide have an explosive offense and the same fearsome defense. Or do they? Bama has been torched by SEC teams, excluding Kentucky, through the air to the tune of nearly 400 yards a game. What do they expect Tennessee to do against them? Run the ball right at them with Dobbs, Hurd, and Kamara. But maybe Dobbs and the ol' Swim Coach decide to chuck the pigskin on and over a suspect secondary. Maybe Josh Malone has a career day. However, it happens I think we win this one. Like trey, I'm taking Tennessee: Tennessee 31 Alabama 28

Trey (5-1 straight up, 3-3 against the spread): Freshman quarterback, iffy secondary, and Lane Kiffin, who is good for at least a couple bouts of throw-the-controller-across-the-room playcalling every season. Dobbs etches his name into history. Tennessee 31 Alabama 28

Rocky Top Talk Staff Average (6-0 straight up, 3-3 against the spread): Tennessee 35 Alabama 32

Vegas: Alabama -12. Over/under 57.5. Alabama 35 Tennessee 23