Alabama 48, Tennessee 17: What we learned as Crimson Tide beat Vols for 14th straight time
The Third Saturday in October rivalry remains as lopsided as ever.
Tennessee couldn’t slow down the nation’s best offense, and No. 2 Alabama rolled to a 48-17 victory Saturday in front of a crowd of 23,394 at Neyland Stadium.
The Crimson Tide (5-0) have won 14 straight in the series, with few competitive games during that stretch.
Tennessee (2-3) will enter its bye week burdened with its first three-game losing streak since the 2017 season.
Here are five things we learned.
Alabama offense as good as advertised
Alabama’s opening drive stalled at midfield. That was an aberration. The Crimson Tide scored touchdowns on their next four possessions, and their offense lived up to the hype.
Jaylen Waddle, one of Alabama’s top weapons, exited after suffering a season-ending ankle injury on the opening kickoff, but Mac Jones found plenty of other targets to throw to.
Jones completed five passes of at least 20 yards and finished 25-of-31 for 387 yards, further establishing himself as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Not only was Tennessee’s secondary run ragged, but the Vols exhibited woeful tackling and repeatedly failed to wrap up the ballcarrier.
Alabama amassed 587 yards of offense.
Jarrett Guarantano remains the quarterback
Coach Jeremy Pruitt remained committed to Jarrett Guarantano as his team’s quarterback despite Guarantano committing six turnovers in the previous two games. The Vols played three quarterbacks last week against Kentucky, raising questions about whether Pruitt might make a change at the position.
But Guarantano started his 30th career game and played turnover-free. He had a couple of impressive sequences.
Guarantano gained 8 yards on a third-down scramble to extend a drive in the second quarter, then connected with Jalin Hyatt for a 38-yard touchdown on the next play.
Guarantano found Hyatt for a 48-yard gain in the third quarter, then connected with Josh Palmer for a 27-yard touchdown.
Guarantano completed 13 of 24 passes for 162 yards, his best performance in four career games against Alabama.
Vols allow another defensive touchdown
Tennessee got the ball to start the second half, trailing 28-10, with a chance to cut its deficit to two possessions.
Instead, Eric Gray fumbled on the third play of the half. Malachi Moore forced the fumble, recovered it and returned his prize 28 yards for a touchdown, cementing the victory less than a minute into the second half.
Tennessee has now allowed four defensive touchdowns in its last three games. Georgia linebacker Monty Rice returned a fumble for a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 44-21 win over UT. And Kentucky returned two interceptions for touchdowns in last week’s 34-7 triumph.
Tennessee uses conservative approach
Pruitt vowed after Tennessee’s Oct. 3 victory over Missouri that the Vols would not play or coach in fear.
Perhaps he misspoke.
Tennessee opted for a field goal in the second quarter rather than go for fourth-and-2 from Alabama’s 15-yard line.
In the third quarter, the Vols recovered a fumble at Alabama’s 48-yard line. They followed with a run for negative-1 yard, a jet sweep for 4 yards and another run for a loss of a yard.
Fans rang down boos after the third-down play, and Tennessee punted, squandering the opportunity.
Gap between Tennessee and SEC’s elite remains broad
The Vols dropped to 0-8 against rivals Alabama, Florida and Georgia during the Pruitt era. Each of those losses has come by at least three touchdowns.
Tennessee gets one more shot against that trio in the regular-season finale against Florida.
Alabama’s average margin of victory during its winning streak over Tennessee is now 25.7 points.
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Blake Toppmeyer covers University of Tennessee football. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. Current subscribers can click here to join Blake's subscriber-only text group offering updates and analysis on Vols football.