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Staff picks: Tennessee vs. Alabama

The picks are in!

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Welcome to Saturday! We’ve got a big one today as Tennessee heads down to Tuscaloosa for their annual showdown with Alabama. The Volunteers got the better of the Crimson Tide last year — can they make it two in a row?

Our picks are below.

Terry: Alabama 24, Tennessee 16

I really don’t think these teams are all that different at all, but I just don’t trust Tennessee to go into Tuscaloosa and get it done. We saw the road struggles against Florida and I think we see more of that here.

The Tennessee defense will make a couple of huge plays, but I think they’ll also give up a couple of big plays. In the end, Joe Milton is going to have to make some throws, and he’s yet to do that for most of the year. If this offense had any sort of downfield passing attack, I think they could get the job done.

It’s going to be an ugly, weird and frustrating game for both sides. Ultimately, I think Tennessee will let it slip away.

Nick: Alabama 28, Tennessee 18

Unless Milton and the receivers have all the sudden gotten on the same page, the Vols just don’t have the offensive juice to beat the Alabama at home.

Saban is going to stack the box and make UT try to beat them with Milton throwing the ball. And 100 yards passing for the game won’t get that done. The Vols’ defense will keep them in this one — for a while, at least — and I’m guessing we’ll still be able to run the the ball to a degree. But it would take a Herculean effort from the defensive front seven to get to Milroe enough to force a mistake or two, and if that happens, and Tennessee manages to score on on defense or on special teams, the Vols have some hope. ‘Bama ranks sixth-worst in the country in sacks allowed per-game at 3.7, so there’s a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel, but its more likely just an oncoming train.

Unfortunately, Milroe seems to have found his stride of late, throwing for 559 yards, five TDs and one interception in the Tide’s last two games.

The Vols also rank 117th in penalties per-game at 7.6 (giving up 65 penalty yards per-contest), and they just don’t have the margin for error to commit three holding penalties on one drive by one offensive lineman.

Alabama gets revenge for last year, the Vols drop their first game to an SEC West opponent.

Matt: Alabama 26, Tennessee 12

Back to back weeks picking against the Vols…I feel gross.

I don’t think Tennessee can move the ball on this defense. This Alabama defense is the best in the country across the board in my eyes. They’ve allowed north of 350 yards of offense just once all season, and they’re hard to run on, something the Vols absolutely have to be able to do to sustain drives in this game.

I think it would require Joe Milton having his best career game to win this in Tuscaloosa, and I just don’t think he’s capable of providing what’s needed at quarterback. If Tennessee rushes for 200 yards and can avoid turning the ball over more than once, I think they win, but I just don’t see that happening.

Craig: Alabama 29, Tennessee 19

I wrote this week about the Vols needed something from Joe Milton in order to escape Tuscaloosa with a win. They won’t get it. The running game have its moments, but Alabama will be effective enough stopping it force Milton to make some basic throws downfield, and he won’t be able to do it.

The Vols’ tired defense eventually breaks in the second half after some early pressure and mistakes forced from Jalen Milroe. A great defensive performance will be wasted because of the Vols’ incapable passing game. A true shame.

Christian: Alabama 27, Tennessee 13

To put it plain and simple, Tennessee’s passing attack, or lack thereof, gives me no reason to believe they’re is going to win this game. It’s tough to beat Alabama. It’s even tougher to beat Alabama when you’re a one dimensional offense. It’s almost impossible to beat Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, when you’re a one dimensional offense. And unfortunately, that’s exactly what Tennessee’s offense is right now. Maybe Joe Milton will prove me wrong and they can establish some sort of threat in the passing game. For the record, I hope he does.

On the defensive side of the ball, I think Tennessee’s pass rush makes like tough for Jalen Milroe early but ultimately they’re going to be too gassed from being on the field far too often. I think Tennessee keeps this game close in the first half but the wheels fall off in the second half.