Well, Alabama is at it again.
After winning the national championship last season, the Crimson Tide have rolled to a 6-0 record this year, using a run-heavy approach complete with an efficient quarterback in A.J. McCarron while leading the nation in points allowed per game (7.5).
Tennessee has stumbled as of late, losing its last two games while junior quarterback Tyler Bray has struggled with turnovers.
The Volunteers will get to play the game in Knoxville on Saturday, but this is a train that could easily roll right over them.
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
When: Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line: Alabama -20.5, Over/Under 56 (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
What's At Stake?
While Tennessee (3-3, 0-3) is far behind in the SEC East, Alabama has a lot to play for.
After winning the national championship last season, the Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC) are currently ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings. They still have to play three ranked teams in Mississippi State, LSU and Texas A&M, so there's still a long road to go, but they can start by taking care of business against the Volunteers on Saturday.
A national title this season would be Alabama's third in four years.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
QB A.J. McCarron - Knee - Probable
RB Eddie Lacy - Hand - Probable
WR Kevin Norwood - Leg - Questionable
DB Brian Randolph - Knee - OUT for season
LB LaTroy Lewis - Knee - OUT for season
PK George Bullock - Leg - OUT for season
What They're Saying
There is a lot of concern about quarterback A.J. McCarron after he tweaked his knee against Missouri.
Russ Mitchell of College Football News tweeted on Tuesday:
Lot of chatter coming out of Alabama about A.J. McCarron's knee. Heard from 3 sources now that there's a meniscus tear #Bama— Russ Mitchell (@RussMitchellCFB) October 16, 2012
McCarron practiced on Monday, but this appears to be a situation that will need to be evaluated throughout the week. McCarron is "probable" to start, but the injury could limit him against Tennessee.
The junior has completed 67 percent of his passes while averaging 8.9 yards per pass attempt and tossing 12 touchdowns to zero interceptions this season.
As for Tennessee, it's bad enough that it has lost its last two games. Now it's looking like it is going to be without junior running back Rajion Neal, who is "doubtful" for Saturday's game with an ankle injury, according to Andrew Gribble of Al.com.
Neal, who injured his ankle in the 41-31 loss to Mississippi State last week, has rushed for 500 yards and five touchdowns this season as well as posting 116 yards and two touchdowns receiving. He's a big part of the Tennessee offense.
Alabama Player to Watch: Eddie Lacy/T.J. Yeldon, RB
Alabama already relies heavily on its running game. With McCarron possibly being limited, I expect the Crimson Tide to give Tennessee a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, who have formed a formidable duo in the backfield this season.
Tennessee is allowing 4.86 yards per carry (97th in the nation) and has given up 13 rushing touchdowns this season. That includes allowing Mississippi State's LaDarius Perkins to rush for 101 yards and a touchdown last week.
McCarron may not even be needed much.
Tennessee Player to Watch: Tyler Bray, QB
With Rajion Neal doubtful for the game, a lot of the offense is going to be on junior Tyler Bray's shoulders.
After starting the season off strong, Bray has tossed seven interceptions in his last four contests, including three in the 51-44 loss to Georgia two games ago.
Bray has the tools to be a special quarterback, but he has to be smarter with the pigskin, particularly against an Alabama defense that is allowing just 4.8 yards per pass attempt (third in the nation) and has notched 11 interceptions (tied for fourth in the nation, first in the SEC).
It's not going to be easy with the Crimson Tide focusing on Bray all game long.
Key Matchup: Tennessee Passing Attack vs. Alabama Pass Defense
It's difficult enough going up against Alabama's pass defense. With Neal likely out of the game, it's going to be darn near impossible for Bray to make an impact without a serious threat in the backfield.
Sophomore Marlin Lane (probable with a quad injury) is going to have to come up big for Tennessee to ensure that there is some balance in the Vols' offense. He has been productive with limited carries this season.
Perhaps then Bray can find some room to operate with dynamic receiver Justin Hunter on his side.
Prediction: Alabama 42, Tennessee 17
I do like Tyler Bray, but he has clearly shown that he needs some work reading defenses and making good decisions in the pocket in his junior campaign.
I don't see that working out for Tennessee, which is also allowing 31.5 points per game this season (93rd in the nation).
Expect a heavy workload for Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon as McCarron sits back and watches the running game and defense go to work for him.
Not a bad week for McCarron to be limited.
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