Tennessee-Alabama Preview: Will the Tide Turn on Saturday?
The motivation, as articulated by Vol linebacker Herman Lathers:
We know we have a big game coming up this weekend against the No. 1 team in the nation. You know, if you don’t come prepared they’re going to embarrass you.
Or potentially even if you do come prepared.
The Crimson Tide comes to Neyland Stadium on Saturday for the 94th edition of the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry game. Here is a potpourri of what they bring with them.
- Lead the nation in total defense, scoring defense, run defense and pass efficiency defense.
- Lead the nation with averages of 7.5 points allowed /181.2 yards allowed after giving up 8.2 /183.6 last season.
- Tied for fourth nationally with 11 INTs.
- Cornerback Dee Milliner has two picks and 12 pass breakups to lead the nation with 2.8 passes defended per game.
- Ranked second in the SEC in turnover margin at +13.
- On offense, one of only three FBS teams not giving up an INT this season. QB A. J. McCarron has thrown 12 TD passes.
- Have ‘recovered’ from the loss of seven 2011 starters, including three NFL first-round draft picks.
- The current win streak over Tennessee is its longest in this series since a seven-game run 1986-1992.
- Lead the series 48-38-7. A win Saturday would be their third consecutive in Knoxville.
And here is what Tennessee brings to the table.
- Offense is ranked in the top 25 nationally with 482.3 yards and 38.0 points per game.
- Cordarrelle Patterson is second in the SEC in all-purpose yardage with 835 yards.
- QB Tyler Bray has thrown for an SEC-best 16 touchdowns.
- Bray ranks second in the SEC with 1,730 yards, just behind Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson.
- On passes of 15 yards or longer in the Vols’ three losses (Florida, Georgia and Mississippi State), Bray has completed just 30 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
- In the three SEC games, has turned the ball over eight times and only forced three turnovers (-5 margin).
- Allowed only three sacks all season (Alabama averages 3.2 sacks per game).
- Run defense is 11th in the SEC (178.7 yards per game).
- Give up 31.5 points per game, their worst average since allowing 42.7 in a six-game 1893 season.
- Give up 429.9 yards per contest, the worst showing since the school began recording that statistic in 1950.
- Seeking their first victory over a top-ranked team since a 38-20 win over Auburn in 1985.
- Has scored 17 or less points in last eight games against Alabama.
- Hasn’t scored more than 10 points in any of the last four games against Bama.
- Lost 10 of last 11 conference games.
- Are 0-13 against Top 25 opponents in Derek Dooley’s tenure.
- The Vols’ best running back, Rajion Neal, will not play due to a high ankle sprain.
That’s all I can say.
Except for the fact that Peyton Manning is in town for street dedication ceremonies Friday and game ceremonies on Saturday. Maybe a little of his Monday Night’s magic can rub off on the Volunteers.
But it is the defense that needs the help.
Alabama 34 Tennessee 17