Rapid Reaction: Tide dominates Vols in all phases in rout at Rocky Top
Alabama played its best game of the season with a 49-10 win against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium, hardly showing any weak spots to assert its standing in the college football landscape.
What it means: Alabama should remain No. 1 after not even being tested on Saturday. The team has won three crucial SEC games, this one perhaps the most impressive. Tennessee likely falls out of the top 10, but Tennessee is still very much in the hunt for the SEC East crown. Tennessee’s schedule is favorable for the remainder of the season, while new East leader Florida faces LSU, Georgia and Arkansas. Tennessee holds the tiebreaker if the two teams finish the season with identical SEC records.
What I liked: In the first half, Alabama dominated statistically. Whether it was Damien Harris, Joshua Jacobs or Jalen Hurts running the ball, Alabama found great success on the ground, which has been a big key to the team’s success. While it didn’t necessarily show up on the scoreboard during the first half, it showed the statistical difference more prominently during the second half, 28-3 in favor of Alabama. The defense was particularly impressive against Tennessee’s running attack, allowing exactly as many yards as carries (32).
What I didn’t like: The Alabama passing game had its roughest outing of the season. Hurts threw an interception and lost a fumble. The fumble helped put Tennessee in position at the Alabama 11-yard line, resulting in the Volunteers’ lone touchdown of the game. For Tennessee, the offense was anemic. The team’s lack of depth was painfully evident against a team of Alabama’s caliber.
Who’s the man: Jalen Hurts. Hurts didn’t have the strongest passing game during the first half. However, Hurts ran the ball effectively throughout the game and didn’t get flustered passing the ball. Hurts found open receivers during the second half, whether it was ArDarius Stewart, Calvin Ridley or O.J. Howard.
Key plays: The biggest play of the game was probably Ronnie Harrison’s 58-yard interception return for a touchdown. It killed momentum Tennessee began to build on offense and gave Alabama a 14-0 lead. It also continued Alabama’s streak of non-offensive touchdowns dating back to last season’s College Football Playoff semifinal against Michigan State. Hurts’ 45-yard run for a touchdown was a career-long and probably the most exciting offensive play for Alabama. For Tennessee, Derek Barnett’s forced fumble gave the Volunteers hope briefly in the first half and played a big role in the team’s lone touchdown of the game.
What’s next: Alabama returns home to Bryant-Denny Stadium to face another top 10 team in Texas A&M. The Alabama-Texas A&M game is likely to be one of the most hyped games of the season with both teams in the top 10 and unbeaten. The season is far from over, although this game could have a big impact on which team wins the SEC West and perhaps the SEC.
Tennessee receives a bye week before facing an SEC road game against South Carolina. With all of the team’s injuries, a bye week is badly needed.