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Can Tennessee Give 'Bama a Run?

posted Sep 13, 2016, 5:27 AM by Austin James
It's no secret that the Vols struggled week one against Appalachian State, but they bounced back with a good showing against Virginia Tech this past weekend at the Battle at Bristol. Despite being out gained (Va Tech had 400 TotYds to Tennessee's 330), the Volunteer defense was able to keep the Hokies in check. The Vols forced five turnovers and rushed for 239 yards in their 45-24 win over the Hokies.

With Alabama being the only truly dominant team so far in the SEC, they have once again become the team to beat. The Crimson Tide have looked better than any team in the West with their 52-6 stomping of the USC Trojans in week one, and the rest of the division has struggled as LSU, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State have all picked up early losses. Texas A&M had an impressive week one win against UCLA, but they don't look like they can compete with 'Bama.

In the East, it seems it's the Volunteers race to lose. UK, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt have all proven they can't compete this year, and Georgia and Florida appear to be the only real challengers to the Vols. However, I wouldn't put either team on the Volunteer's level. Tennessee's talent will take over as the year goes on. This is a team that is going to be tough to beat down the stretch, and I believe their defense will assert itself as one of the top units in the country as the year goes on.

The Vols have a cup-cake game this week against the Ohio Bobcats, but then they begin a four week struggle against the SEC's best, as they play Georgia, at Florida, at Texas A&M, and then round out at home against the top-ranked Crimson Tide. Though Tennessee should win the first three games of this four game stretch, it is no doubt one of the toughest challenges I've seen a team face in college football. But, the real question is about that last game: can they give 'Bama a run?

Provided they remain healthy going into the game, I don't think Tennessee will be a pushover (USC) by any means. Tennessee will be feeling the home-field advantage (there is no doubt Volunteer Nation will have a strong showing) and the Crimson Tide will also be coming off a tough road test of their own against Arkansas. I think Tennessee has a shot if they can run the ball like they did last week. The key to victory against Alabama is going to be dominating time of possession and wearing down their defensive. If you allow the Alabama defense to rest with 3-and-outs, they are going to dominate you. You have to be able to run the ball against the Crimson Tide. However if the Vols can wear on that Crimson TIde defense, I think their defense can keep the Alabama offense in check and push the game into the 4th, and once you get into crunch time, who knows what can happen?