The schedule gets much tougher for No. 1 Alabama in the second half of the season, starting with a road game against Tennessee.
Despite the team's dominance, this will only be the Crimson Tide's second true road game of the year. The first was a 52-0 win over Arkansas, but that was with opposing starting quarterback Tyler Wilson out with an injury.
Tennessee, on the other hand, is much tougher than its 3-3 record indicates. All three losses were to teams in the top 12 of the first BCS standings, and the Volunteers have one of the best offenses in the nation.
This SEC battle should be competitive from beginning to end.
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
Who Ya Got?
When: October 20 at 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Spread: Alabama (-20) via Vegas Insider
Alabama has won every game by at least 20 points but one. That one was a 19-point victory over Ole Miss at the end of September.
The Tide has earned the right to be given a 20-point spread, and they have proved numerous times that they are capable of this type of victory.
Still, the team has only faced struggling teams to this point. Tennessee might arguably be the best team to face the top team in the country all year, even coming off two consecutive losses.
It will take a superior effort to pull the upset, but holding the game to 20 points is definitely possible.
Over/Under: 55.5 via Vegas Insider
Tennessee has allowed at least 37 points in every SEC game it has played this year. Alabama is averaging 40.5 points per game. Scoring will not be a problem for the Crimson Tide.
On the other side of the ball, the Volunteers come in scoring an impressive 38 points per game. It will be almost impossible to replicate that number against the best scoring defense in the country, but they should be able to score at least enough to reach the over.
As the No. 1 team in the first BCS poll, Alabama is in great shape for a repeat national championship. However, it still cannot afford a loss to Tennessee.
The Tide is currently No. 3 in the computer average, which could hurt later in the season if they do end up losing a game. A win against a talented team will only help, especially if No. 2 Florida loses this weekend.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
QB A.J. McCarron (Knee) Prob
RB Eddie Lacy (Hand) Prob
WR Kevin Norwood (Leg) Quest
RB Dee Hart (Knee) Out
QB Tyler Bray (Knee) Prob
LB Curt Maggitt (Toe) Quest
RB Rajion Neal (Ankle) Doubt
DB Brian Randolph (Knee) Out
Key to Alabama Victory: Throw the Ball Down the Field
Alabama has gotten everything it has asked for out of quarterback A.J. McCarron. The junior is sixth in the NCAA with a 171.9 efficiency rating, thanks mostly to the fact that he has not thrown an interception.
Now the staff needs to let him do more.
McCarron is only averaging 22 pass attempts per game, and most passes are close to the line of scrimmage. While this has to do with the team's early leads, it does not give him the experience necessary to win close games.
Tennessee is 93rd in the nation in points against, so this is a good chance to try new things offensively. The team already knows what it has in the run game and defense. This game should be used to help prepare the offense for tougher games in the future.
Key to Tennessee Victory: Win the Turnover Battle
In the team's three losses, turnovers have been a major issue. Tyler Bray has thrown six interceptions in defeats to Florida, Georgia and Mississippi State. Meanwhile, he has a 10-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in all other games.
He is not the only one to blame, as Tennessee has a minus-five turnover ratio in the losses.
It will be tough to force turnovers against the always careful McCarron, but an interception or fumble could be a huge momentum swing against the talented team, especially at home.
At this point, the Volunteers would just need to make sure they hold onto the football themselves.
Prediction: Alabama 41, Tennessee 20
Tyler Bray and Tennessee will do better offensively than any other Alabama opponent this season. Still, the defense does not have the ability to even slow down the rushing attack of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. Alabama should pull away in the second half.