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Outmatched: Alabama 49 Tennessee 10

Moving on. . .

The game was about as close as the tacklers in this picture.
The game was about as close as the tacklers in this picture.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

After a week of anticipating the return of the heavyweight fight against Alabama, Tennessee fans were instead treated to a game that wouldn't have been out of place in the 2011 or 2013 seasons, with the battered Vols squad offering little resistance in a 49-10 loss to a dominant Crimson Tide team.

The first 20 minutes were simultaneously nothing like we feared and exactly like we feared. A defense that had been hit hard by injuries over the first six weeks of the season held their own early against a high-powered Alabama offense, holding the Tide to just one drive of more than 25 yards on their first five possessions. But an offense fresh off a record-setting performance against Texas A&M--albeit missing three starters on the line--wasn't holding up their end of the bargain. After two quick first downs on their opening possession, the Vols recorded just one first down on their next 19 offensive plays, including a stretch of four straight third downs that ended in either a sack or an interception. And after a quarter-and-a-half of coming back on the field every three plays, the defense started wearing down, allowing the Tide 195 yards on their last three possessions of a half. Two turnovers and a missed field goal by Alabama kept Tennessee in the game, but when the first half ended, the Vols were in a familiar place, staring into the face of a 21-7 hole.

But unlike the past three weeks, the second half brought no relief. The Tennessee offense managed just one drive of more than 20 yards (resulting in a field goal that might as well had been a white flag) while the game was within 35 points, the defense gave up three consecutive touchdowns after stopping the Tide on their first possession of the half, and even the special teams unit gave up a score, allowing Eddie Jackson a 79-yard punt return that made the score 42-10. By the time both teams pulled their starters, the Tide led 553-116 in yardage and 49-10 where it counted.

On this day, Tennessee was nowhere near a top ten quality team. Now we move on to a long overdue bye and try to get healthy for a stretch run that could lead to an opportunity for vengeance in Atlanta. Go Vols.