Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide used big games from AJ McCarron and a pair of freshmen to put away Tennessee 44-13.
Top-ranked Alabama put together another dominating effort against rival Tennessee and cruised to a 44-13 win in Neyland Stadium.
The victory was the sixth straight win for the Tide over the Volunteers, which coincides with Nick Saban’s arrival at The Capstone.
Quarterback A.J. McCarron and wide receiver Amari Cooper had huge nights and propelled the offense to another 500-plus yard effort.
The defense gave up some big plays, but they were also able to force two Tyler Bray interceptions that would be converted into Alabama touchdowns.
What can Tide fans take away from its blowout win over the Vols?
Here are 10 things we learned from the Tide’s win over Tennessee.
Alabama’s offense has stepped up to become one of the top units in the nation in 2012, and they have done it by remaining true to the principles Saban has strived for since becoming a head coach.
The Tide’s attack remains balanced, and it values time of possession. Both of those traits figuring heavily in the win over Tennessee.
After finding tough sledding on the ground in the first half, the controlling the clock figured heavily in Alabama’s ability to wear down the Vols defense and outscore them 21-3 in the second half.
The Tide rolled up 539 yards of total offense and topped the 40-point mark for the sixth time in seven games.
For the first time this season, Alabama was unable to keep its opponents scoreless in the first quarter (Tennessee put a field goal on the board in the first period) and they did not take a lead of at least 20 points into intermission.
However, after going three-and-out on its first series of the game, Alabama scored on four of its next five possessions with a missed field goal keeping them from putting a bigger dent in the scoreboard.
Alabama has put up more than 20 points in the first half of every game this season.
True freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper has become a bigger focal point in the offense as the season has progressed.
Cooper turned in a career-best performance catching seven passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
His rapport with McCarron has grown, and they have the look of potentially becoming one of the nation’s top pass-catch combos by season’s end.
Manti Te’o of Notre Dame and Jarvis Jones of Georgia are usually the names that garner most of the nation’s attention when talk of the country’s best linebackers heats up.
After producing another monster game that featured another timely turnover, Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley is making a case to be included in that discussion.
His second-quarter interception of Tyler Bray turned the momentum of what was a 7-3 game in the Tide's favor, helping Alabama take control of the game.
The interception was the fifth of his career and bolstered his case as the nation's best linebacker in pass coverage.
Coming into this game, one of the season’s most pleasant surprises has been the play of kickers Cade Foster and Jeremy Shelley.
However, after Foster missed attempts of 44 yards in the second quarter and 45 yards in the third period, Tide fans may have reason to have jitters should Alabama be forced to try a long field goal in the weeks ahead.
While Shelley is perfect this season making all eight of his kicks, Foster is now four-of-eight on the year, with his confidence heading in the wrong direction after a strong start to the 2012 season.
Alabama’s punt return job has been a revolving door in the search to replace Marquis Maze.
Receiver Christion Jones has had his ups and downs, and backup Dee Hart was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered against Ole Miss.
After patiently waiting for a chance to become the main return man, true freshman Cyrus Jones looked like a natural and helped set up the Tide’s first touchdown of the night with a 32-yard return.
Considering how comfortable he looked, it would be shocking if he did not stick in that role for the remainder of the season.
Tennessee came into the game representing the best offensive attack that Alabama had seen up to this point in the 2012 season.
While they were able to move the ball and hit some big plays, Tyler Bray threw a pair of costly interceptions that turned into 14 points for the Tide.
The two picks give Alabama's defense 13 on the year and a total of 20 turnovers forced on the season.
The biggest challenge of facing Tennessee’s offense was trying to defend the wide receiver duo of Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.
Alabama’s secondary—led by corners Dee Milliner and Deion Belue—stepped up to the challenge by limiting them to combined totals of five catches for 95 yards and no touchdowns.
Considering that each of Hunter’s four catches and 70 yards came after halftime (when the game was effectively out of reach), it was clear that the defensive backs won their individual matchups against a pair of receivers with NFL futures.
Cooper was not the only freshman to have a big night for the Tide’s offense.
After struggling to find running room in the first half, T.J. Yeldon turned it on in the second half and raced to his second consecutive game with 100-plus yards and multiple trips to paydirt.
Yeldon totaled 15 carries for 129 yards and two scores in leading the Tide’s effort on the ground.
It was the third 100-plus yard effort for Yeldon this season.
That pesky game-manager label?
Let’s just say A.J. McCarron just buried that term six-feet under after barely throwing more incompletions (five) than touchdown passes (four) against the Vols.
The stat line (17-of-22 for 306 yards, four scores) does not tell the whole story, especially his ability to pick up timely third down conversions by escaping the pass rush and creating big plays that extended several early drives.
This game may have also been the performance that gets his name buzzing for the Heisman Trophy race and rubber-stamps his standing as the best quarterback in the SEC.