Alabama Football: Tide and Vols numbers don’t lie or do they?


Looking at statistical numbers for Alabama Football and the Tennessee Vols suggests a close game. As in close enough a fever-pitched Neyland Stadium crowd’s impact of probably three points could turn the outcome into a smaller margin than a touchdown.

The biggest wild card is Bryce Young. It appears Bryce will be the Crimson Tide starter, and he may be near 100%. But what happens after his shoulder is hit remains a concern.

Tennessee is most vulnerable against good passing attacks. A healthy Bryce throughout the game should be able to take full advantage. Another question mark for both sides is can the Vols slow the Alabama rushing attack.

Statistically, the Vols are not far behind the Crimson Tide in stopping the run. Alabama, holding the average rush by opponents to 2.39 yards is No. 4 in the FBS. Tennessee’s average opponent’s rush is 2.79 yards and No. 7 in the FBS. Are the two defenses as comparable as these stats indicate? Not when strength-of-schedule (SOS) is considered. According to ESPN’s FPI algorithm, Alabama has played the 24th toughest schedule and the Vols have played the 64th.

The Tennessee front seven is improved over last season. They are comfortable using a deep, defensive line rotation, so that position group should never tire. If the improved Alabama football offensive line can consistently push forward and create holes, the Vols could be the team having to play catch up.

Other Alabama Football and Tennessee Stat Comparisons

  • Scoring Offense: Alabama No. 5 (FBS), No. 2 (SEC); Tennessee No. 2 (FBS), No. 1 (SEC)
  • Rushing Offense (yards-per-carry): Alabama No. 1 (FBS), No. 1 (SEC); Tennessee No. 46 (FBS), No. 5 (SEC)
  • Passing Offense (yards-per-game): Alabama No. 68 (FBS), No. 7 (SEC); Tennessee No. 7 (FBS), No. 2 (SEC)
  • Total Offense (yards-per-game): Alabama No. 7 (FBS), No. 3 (SEC); Tennessee No. 1 (FBS), No. 1 (SEC)
  • Third-Down Conversions (percentage): Alabama No. 29 (FBS), No. 3 (SEC); Tennessee No. 40 (FBS), No. 5 (SEC)
  • Red Zone TD Conversions (percentage): Alabama tie No. 19 (FBS), No. 5 (SEC); Tennessee No. 12 (FBS), No. 4 (SEC)
  • Passing Defense (yards-per-game): Alabama No. 12 (FBS), No. 1 (SEC); Tennessee No. 128 (FBS), No. 13 (SEC)
  • Total Defense (yards-per-game): Alabama No. 6 (FBS), No. No. 1 (SEC); Tennessee No. 87 (FBS), No. 11 (SEC)
  • Penalties (yards-per-game): Alabama No. 117 (FBS), No. 13 (SEC); Tennessee No. 125 (FBS), No. 14 (SEC)
  • Turnover Margin: Alabama at -6 is No. 121 (FBS), No. 12 (SEC); Tennessee at +5 is No. 21 (FBS), No. 1 (SEC).

Note: Teams stats were provided by

Next. Optimism grows for Bryce against the Vols. dark

So do the numbers lie? Without the filter of strength of schedule, an answer is yes, the numbers can be misleading. When SOS is considered, an Alabama football fan can conclude the Crimson Tide is a couple of touchdowns better, even in Knoxville. Obviously, most of the positive statistical advantages for the Crimson Tide require a healthy Bryce Young. And the Tide’s game seven cannot be a continuation of Alabama’s turnover issues.