Alabama may hold almost every matchup advantage on the field in the showdown against Tennessee, but the Volunteers have a couple of intangibles that could lead them to victory.
Tennessee will field one of its best teams in years this Saturday as the Volunteers host No. 1 Alabama in Neyland Stadium. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, there might not be a position on the field where they hold an advantage over the Crimson Tide, according to CBS Sports College Football Studio Analyst Brian Jones.
“Alabama stretches you in every facet of the game: offensively, defensively, special teams. They are so well-rounded.”
The reigning national champions came into the season with question marks, but those quickly went away as freshman Jalen Hurts became a stud at quarterback, Rueben Foster took over leadership of the defense, and the secondary has been lights out.
Basically, Jones said, the Crimson Tide can score in any possible way.
“Alabama has nine non-offensive scores on the season …. That’s just amazing ”
In fact, the Crimson Tide have had a non-offensive touchdown in every game dating back to the 2015 SEC Championship Game. Last year’s Iron Bowl was Alabama’s last game without one.
The Volunteers will try to break a nine-game losing streak to their rivals. And while there have been close contests, they’ve not beaten Alabama since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa.
This could be the year, as Tennessee is led by a lot of veteran talent, including quarterback Joshua Dobbs, whom Jones said might be the only edge the Volunteers have over the Tide.
“I’d probably give Dobbs the edge at quarterback. Even though Jalen Hurts has played well, he makes a mistake here or there. Unfortunately, Dobbs has had some ill-advised interceptions in the last two ballgames. The one last week really hurt in overtime. But he was able to overcome the one against Georgia at about the eight-minute mark in the fourth quarter. So I’d give Dobbs the edge, especially with the way his wide receivers are playing.”
Dobbs and his receivers must have a great game for Tennessee to sport a chance. They’ll be aided by the return of Jalen Hurd alongside Alvin Kamara at the running back position, which will keep the offense balanced. With all the talent on both sides of the ball, there are a couple of intangibles that Jones also believes favor the Volunteers.
“What I like about Tennessee is their grit, and their resolve. They’ve [also] got the edge in motivation because they’ve lost nine straight. And home field, too, so hopefully that place is jumping.”
It will take a combination of factors to come together for the Volunteers to pull the upset, but with at least a few things in their favor, counting them out would be a mistake.