No. 2 Alabama will look to keep its unblemished record intact Saturday when it takes on Tennessee in the rivalry known as the “Third Saturday in October” (even though it will be played on the fourth Saturday in October this year). The Crimson Tide are fresh off of a second-half surge to run away from No. 4 Georgia last week in the biggest game of the young season. Quarterback Mac Jones and the Tide receiving corps have solidified the offense as one of the best in the nation.
Tennessee, on the other hand, is reeling. The Vols have lost two straight — including a 34-7 home loss to Kentucky last week — and have enough drama to qualify for an Oscar. Coach Jeremy Pruitt fired defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh after just four games with the program, even though the defensive line ranks second in the SEC in tackles for loss. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has seen his grip on the top spot on the depth chart slip, and might not even start this weekend.
Let’s break down the rivalry and make picks straight up and against the spread. Odds via William Hill Sportsbook.
Alabama: The Tide just keep on rolling. Wide receiver John Metchie III has turned into yet another weapon for Jones, who also has DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle outside to put pressure on opposing secondaries. Jones leads the nation in passing yards per attempt at 13.2, which has opened up holes the size of the Grand Canyon for running backs Najee Harris and Brian Robinson. The defense got right last weekend when it shut out Georgia in the second half. It was the first time all season that it looked like the defense of old, proving that “just enough” defense is more than enough to keep this Crimson Tide team atop the SEC pecking order.
Tennessee: There’s only one way to describe the Vols: a mess. The offensive line — once thought to be a strength — has struggled mightily, which hasn’t helped out Guarantano and the quarterbacks. Speaking of quarterbacks, Guarantano might lose his job this week to former hot-shot recruit Harrison Bailey. No matter who starts under center, the fact that trotting out an ultra-inexperienced quarterback against Alabama is even a debate speaks volumes on where this team actually is.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 24 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Neyland Stadium — Knoxville, Tennessee
TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
OTT: CBS Sports App (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast)