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Tennessee opens as a huge underdog against Alabama

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The spread is massive.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Tennessee Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee picked up a much needed SEC win over Mississippi State last Saturday afternoon in Neyland Stadium, stopping the bleeding and giving us all something to celebrate for once. Derrick Ansley’s defense was brilliant, holding Joe Moorhead’s offense to just ten points.

Jarrett Guarantano and Tyler Byrd came back to life to deliver the final nail in the coffin.

Tennessee improved to 2-4 on the year, stacking back to back encouraging performances on top of each other. Their reward? A trip to Tuscaloosa to face the best offense in the land. Okay, maybe not THE best statistically, but probably the best offense we’ve ever seen out of Alabama.

The Crimson Tide ranks 6th in total offense coming into this one, putting up 536 yards per game and averaging over eight yards per snap. That offense led by Heisman contender quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the reason for this massive spread that you’re about to see.

Alabama opened as a 35.5 point favorite over Tennessee — the second largest underdog spread Tennessee has ever seen. As David Ubben points out, only the 2017 contest between Alabama and Tennessee is higher.

Alabama ended up covering that spread late in the game, winning 45-7.

This Alabama team feels a lot different, relying on offense over defense. We’ve mentioned their top ranked offense, but the defense ranks 36th in FBS — a respectable number, but down from Alabama standards.

For Tennessee, there’s now uncertainty around the quarterback position once again with Brian Maurer sustaining a concussion against Mississippi State. His status is unknown heading into this week, meaning it could be Jarrett Guarantano’s show on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

The freshman quarterback moved the ball effectively against the Bulldogs, but tossed two crushing interceptions in the redzone, taking points off of the board for Tennessee. But that’s life with a freshman quarterback, right?

Regardless of who is under center for Tennessee, the Vols are going to struggle with Alabama’s elite athletes on the perimeter. After an outstanding showing last Saturday, this defense gets a near impossible task this weekend.