Well that went... as expected. Alabama beat Tennessee convincingly today in Tuscaloosa, winning their 11th straight game over the Vols.
Here’s how it happened.
After a quick Tennessee three and out, Alabama opened this one up with a 12 play drive where they did just about anything they wanted. Tennessee put up a nice effort on the goal line, but Nick Saban opted to go for the touchdown on 4th down, which he got with Bo Scarbrough. Bama jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead.
The Tennessee offense came out with a couple of different looks, including huddling and some under center looks. They were able to put together two first downs on their second possession before punting once again.
Trevor Daniel gave Tennessee great field position, pinning Alabama at the one. After a couple of first downs, the Vols got their first stop of the day, forcing a punt. They were unable to do anything with it, however.
A bit of a shank from Daniel gave Alabama the ball a mid-field to start their next drive, but Tennessee forced a three and out. The Vols’ defense was off to a really nice start early on. But there just wasn’t any help from the offense, following the theme we’ve seen all year.
It took them a minute, but Alabama started to roll. They were able to put together a drive, capitalizing on a momentum shifting penalty on Jonathan Kongbo. Kongbo was popped for a hands to the face call, which nullified an Alabama fumble through the endzone. It would have been Tennessee’s football down 7-0, instead it was 14-0 Alabama. That was a huge moment in the first half.
Alabama capped the drive by going for it again on 4th and 1 at the goal line. Scarbrough punched it in again with ease. From here, the Tide got rolling. Damien Harris punched one in before halftime to give Alabama a 21-0 lead.
Jalen Hurts came out of the halftime break looking sharp, scoring in just seven plays. After a respectable first quarter effort, Tennessee was down 28-0 just like that.
Alabama inserted Tua Tagovailoa, after that. They drove right down the field, but Tagovailoa threw an interception. Daniel Bituli took it 97 yards to the house, scoring Tennessee’s first touchdown in 28 days.
Saban stuck with Tua on the next drive. The Bama offense was able to answer with three points to bring the lead to 31-7. Tua added another touchdown on the ground on the next drive to make it 38-7.
Just when you thought Tennessee had caught a break with a fumble on a punt, the Vols found a way to squander a chance on the goal line. John Kelly appeared to score, but was ruled down on the one yard line. Trey Smith was hit with a false start, then Guarantano threw a pick on 4th down.
That’s about right, isn’t it?
Tagovailoa poured salt in the wound with a touchdown strike to Henry Ruggs to take it to 45-7. That would do it.
On a day that would probably be described as sloppy by Alabama standards, they still beat Tennessee by 38 points. I thought the Volunteer defense put together an admirable effort — especially in the first half — but they just didn’t have much help. It was just a matter of time before Alabama wore them down.
I don’t think it’s all negatives here today, but the fact of the matter is this — Tennessee is 3-4 and 0-4 in the SEC. Tennessee will try to get back going in the right direction against Kentucky next Saturday night.