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Tennessee (4-3) at (1) Alabama (7-0)



Saturday, October 26, 3:30 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide continue their chase of a third straight national championship, when they close out the month of October with a showdown with the upset-minded Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The two-time defending champs posted yet another lopsided win this past weekend, shutting out Arkansas, 52-0. With the victory, Nick Saban's squad moved to 7-0 on the year, including a 4-0 mark in the SEC. The victory was also Alabama's 11th straight victory, the second-longest active win streak in the nation behind Ohio State (19).

Saban still doesn't believe his team has hit its peak yet.

"I think it's important that our team continue to focus on improving. I still don't think we played our best game. I think we have to continue to improve."

The Volunteers are playing their third straight ranked opponent and fifth in the last six games. The team is coming off its most impressive victory of the Butch Jones' era, outlasting then No. 11 South Carolina last weekend in Knoxville with a 19-yard field goal by Michael Palardy as time expired (23-21) to end a 19-game losing streak to ranked opponents. The victory improved UT to 4-3 in Jones' first season at the helm and is his first win in-conference (1-2).

Jones knows that last week's win was huge but is a thing of the past.

"Each week is a new season in and of itself," Jones said. "Each week takes on a life of itself and that's where we've tried to educate our younger players. The game planning changes. It's that mental effort, that mental intensity, that high level of preparation that goes into it so we really, really have stressed that. Up to this point in time our players have done a good job with that."

Alabama holds a 49-38-7 series advantage against Tennessee thanks to wins in each of the last six meetings. The Crimson Tide posted a 44-13 rout of the Volunteers in Knoxville a year ago.

Tennessee relies heavily on its ground game in 2013, with the Volunteers ranking 37th nationally at 201.7 ypg. The passing has been plagued with inconsistency this season, with the team averaging a modest 166.3 yards passing per game.

A lot of that has to do with junior Justin Worley's struggles. The Tennessee quarterback has completed just 55.8 percent of his passes this season, for 1,119 yards, with just 10 touchdowns against six interceptions.

The team's preferred mode of travel is hading off the ball to senior tailback Rajion Neal, who is averaging a solid 99.0 yards per game, amassing 693 yards (5.2 ypc). Neal is also responsible for eight of the team's 13 rushing scores on the year.

Tennessee has struggled with consistency on the defensive side of the ball this year, allowing 411.9 yards per game, including a generous 181.7 yards rushing on 4.8 yards per carry.

Junior linebacker A.J. Johnson is the heart-and-soul of the UT defense, leading the team in tackles with 55. Sophomore DB Brian Randolph has played well in the secondary, ranking second with 46 stops, while leading the team with three interceptions. Senior Marlon Walls (17 tackles) is the playmaker up front and leads the Vols in both TFL (6.5) and sacks (4.5).

The Crimson Tide continued to roll on both sides of the football against Arkansas, and have shown no signs of slowing up. Offensively, the team is able to move the chains both on the ground (211.7 ypg) and through the air (248.7 ypg), leading to 40.7 ppg.

It definitely helps to have one of the nation's top veteran signal callers in AJ McCarron running the show. The senior Heisman candidate has completed 69.2 percent of his passes this season, for 1,587 yards, with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions. McCarron has a deep receiving corps to work with, led by Christion Jones (26 catches, 275 yards, two TDs).

While the passing game keeps foes honest, Alabama has long been a running team. The 2013 squad is no different, as tailbacks T.J. Yeldon (657 yards, 6.6 ypc, seven TDs) and Kenyan Drake (402 yards, 8.2 ypc, seven TDs) are a potent one-two punch.

The Alabama defense has been a staple as well under Saban and once again is one of the nation's premier units. The Crimson Tide lead the nation in scoring defense (9.7 ppg), ranking eighth in rush defense (98.3 ypg), ninth in pass defense (176.7 ypg) and fifth in total defense (275.0 ypg).

However, the squad has had to deal with some adversity this year. First, All- American candidate HaHa Clinton-Dix was suspended for a couple of games. The talented safety returned to the lineup against Arkansas, but fellow safety Vinnie Sunseri went down against the Razorbacks (knee) and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

There is plenty of talent remaining in Tuscaloosa on defense, but Sunseri was a leader in the secondary and won't be easily replaced. The Tide will still rely on All-American linebacker C.J. Mosley to lead the way. Mosley leads the team with 58 total tackles. Both freshman A'Shawn Robinson (17 tackles, 5.0 sacks) and sophomore Denzel Devall (15 tackles, 4.5 sacks) have shown flashes of strong play in the pass rush, despite a combined three starts.

The Volunteers recorded a great win last week that should help Butch Jones in his bid to turn Tennessee around in a short time frame. However, winning in Tuscaloosa is a monumental task and one that the Vols simply aren't ready for.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Alabama 41, Tennessee 10

10/23 10:41:47 ET

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Local
Final
EDM 6
CAR 3
12:30pm Today
UVA
UNC
2:00pm Today
NCCU
SAVST
 
Final
SFG 2
KAN 3
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
ORL 92
DAL 117
Final
TOR 83
NYK 80
Final
MEM 98
MIA 104
Final
CHI 112
MIN 113
Final
HOU 96
SAN 87
Final
UTA 100
PHO 105
Final
LAL 92
SAC 93
Final
GSW 119
DEN 112
Final
LAC 89
POR 99
Final
CIN 34
SFLA 17
Final
SALABAMA 27
TROY 13
Final
BSU 55
BYU 30
Final
CAL 41
OREG 59
12:00pm Today
WISC
MD
12:00pm Today
SMU
MEM
12:00pm Today
ILL
MINN
12:00pm Today
RICE
UNT
12:00pm Today
NEB
RUTG
12:00pm Today
KST
TEX
12:00pm Today
ARK
UAB
12:30pm Today
UVA
UNC
1:00pm Today
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2:30pm Today
UMO
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3:30pm Today
WAKE
BC
3:30pm Today
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3:30pm Today
MARS
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3:30pm Today
PITT
GT
3:30pm Today
SMISS
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3:30pm Today
MSU
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3:30pm Today
KENT
MSST
3:30pm Today
STAN
ORST
3:30pm Today
TCU
TTU
3:30pm Today
OKST
WVU
4:00pm Today
WKENT
ODU
4:00pm Today
UTST
UNLV
4:00pm Today
MIZZ
VANDY
5:00pm Tonight
UCF
TEMPL
6:00pm Tonight
WASU
ARZ
7:00pm Tonight
CLEM
SYR
7:00pm Tonight
LAMON
TXST
7:00pm Tonight
TXSANANTO
UTEP
7:00pm Tonight
COLST
WYO
7:15pm Tonight
LSU
MISS
7:30pm Tonight
TENN
ALA
7:30pm Tonight
AUB
SCAR
8:00pm Tonight
PSU
OSU
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
USC
10:45pm Tonight
WASH
ARST
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
NEV
Final
NJD 2
DAL 3
Final
WIN 2
TAM 4
Final
COL 7
VAN 3
Final
EDM 6
CAR 3
Final
ANA 4
CLB 1
4:00pm Today
SJS
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
BOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
DAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
DET
 
7:00pm Tonight
OTT
NJD
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
NYR
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
PIT
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
TAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARI
FLA
 
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
WAS
 
2:00pm Today
NCCU
SAVST