Game Time: Saturday, October 19th, 9:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. local
Odds: Alabama (-34.5), -23000 (Alabama Moneyline), +8500 (Tennessee Moneyline), O/U (61 points)
The Alabama Crimson Tide wanted a night game and they certainly got one.
By the time this one ends, most fans won’t be arriving to the cozy confines of their homes until well after midnight local time.
The last time the Crimson Tide played a 8:00 p.m. central time zone game in Bryant-Denny Stadium, they ended up losing to the Ole Miss Rebels. Can the Tennessee Volunteers pull off the same kind of upset?
The short answer is, not really. However, the Volunteers seemed to have gotten the oh-so-present stench of the Georgia State and BYU losses off of them with a solid victory over Mississippi State last weekend. Jeremy Pruitt needed that one. Badly.
The Tide are coming off a 19-point victory over the Aggies in College Station where the defense once again gave up over 350 yards and 20-plus points to its third straight conference opponent. The general consensus, though, is that with an offense that’s averaging 536 yards and 51 points per game, the defense can maybe afford to be a bit leaky right now.
Tennessee freshman quarterback Brian Maurer (concussion) still appears to be a game-time decision, but with veteran QB Jarrett Guarantano waiting in the wings, the Vols would at least have a guy who’s experienced playing the Tide in Tuscaloosa.
And while the Alabama defense is not to the level of Saban defenses of the past, they are beginning to get a push in the trenches that wasn’t necessarily there earlier this season. The emergence of defensive tackle Christian Barmore will certainly help them continue to do this going forward.
If you check the current depth chart for the Vols, you will notice that five true freshmen (including Maurer) will be starting against the Tide Saturday evening. This is not uncommon, of course, but it’s not the most desirable set of circumstances you want for your team.
This seems to be Pruitt’s long game, though. If he needs to start 18-year-olds over veterans then he will. The consequences right now are more dire due to the competition each week, but as long as he continues to recruit well, he believes this team could be in contention for a conference title in two more years.
Whether this is true or not, we’ll see, but those two talented former five-star offensive tackles in Darnell Wright and Wanya Morris will have their hands full against Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings coming off the edge. The oft-injured Lewis had his best game to date, tallying two sacks and three quarterback pressures against the Aggies and he seems to be the healthiest he’s been since the Florida State game of 2017.
If ‘Bama can put together a full game on both sides of the ball, force Maurer or Guarantano out of the pocket a bunch and continue to work the middle of the defense, this game is over by the half.
At worst, this could be a malaise game for Nick Saban’s team and the best that the Vols have played all season, which would still probably mean a two-to-three score victory for the Tide.
Not sure if they’ll cover, but they will win big.
Prediction: Alabama 52 Tennessee 20