The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0) welcomes longtime rival Tennessee Volunteers (4-3) to Bryant-Denny this weekend for the “Third Saturday In October,” taking place this season on the fourth Saturday.
After embarrassing losses to Oregon and Florida, and then a near-defeat to the Sun Belt’s South Alabama, Tennessee shocked the SEC by nearly upsetting Georgia two weeks ago and then following that up by pulling off the upset against South Carolina last weekend. That win has given both the players and fans of Tennessee new hope and confidence leading into their biggest game of the year.
What will it take to stop the Vols momentum?
Stop the Ground Game
Tennessee’s offensive line is coming together and tailback Raijon Neal ran for 225 yards and three scores in the last two weeks against Georgia and South Carolina. The Tennessee offensive line against the Alabama defensive line is going to be an interesting matchup, and whether or not Tide nose tackle Brandon Ivory plays is going to be a massive factor in this game. Ivory anchors the Alabama line and is a large part of the top-ranked rushing defense in the SEC.
Get to Worley
Tennessee uses the running game to try and set up big plays in the passing game, and Worley has not been hit much either this year. Stopping the running game will put Worley into tough situations and long third downs, where Alabama can then come after him with pressure. Worley has made some mistakes in bad situations this year, but he’s also improved over the last few games as well making fewer mistakes. Worley has been able to settle down in the past two games but it will be the job of the Alabama defense to halt the Tennessee run game and then get a hand on Worley to get him unsettled.
Pound the Vols Defense
Tennessee is allowing 187 yards rushing a game so far this season, and the Alabama running game is hitting on cylinders at this point in the season. Alabama will surely test that Tennessee defense by running right at it early. A continued pounding will then set up AJ McCarron’s deadly play action pass to try and get a big play in the passing game.
Tennessee’s confidence is at an all time high in 2013 right now and Alabama will need to squash that confidence early in the game, break their confidence to stop any momentum from being gained. The longer Tennessee stays in a game the more dangerous they become.