ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (6-0)
at TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (3-3)
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Alabama -20, Total: 55.5
No. 1 Alabama hits the road on Saturday night to face a Tennessee team looking to snap a two-game losing skid.
Tennessee was 10-2 in this series from 1995 to 2006, but Alabama has won five in a row (4-1 ATS). That includes the past two by scores of 41-10 in 2010 and 37-6 last year behind 284 passing yards and 2 total TD from AJ McCarron. The Tide junior is throwing very well this season with 12 TD and 0 INT. Alabama has yet to allow more than 14 points all year and is 3-0 ATS in non-home games. Vols junior QB Tyler Bray has thrown for 288 YPG and 16 TD this year, but his offense has five straight multi-turnover games leading to a 1-4 ATS mark.
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McCarron had a big game in last year's 37-6 romp over Tennessee, completing 17-of-26 passes for 284 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Dating to last year, he has gone nine straight games without throwing an interception, spanning 208 pass attempts. RB Eddie Lacy started the season slow (42 rushing YPG in first three games), but he has been running all over people with 365 yards in the past three contests, scoring three times in last week's 42-10 rout at Missouri. Freshman RB T.J. Yeldon also had a huge performance against the Tigers with 144 yards and 2 TD on just 18 carries (8.0 YPC). Defensively, the Tide have just been unbelievable. They lead the nation in scoring defense (7.5 PPG), total defense (181 YPG), passing defense (126 YPG) and rushing defense (55 YPG). They also rank second in the SEC in sacks (6.8 per game) and have forced 3+ turnovers in five of six contests this year. The return game has also been top-notch, most notably 28.4 yards per kickoff return (7th in nation).
Bray did not face the Tide last year, and played sparingly against them in 2010, going 5-for-14 for 39 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT in a 41-10 home loss. Although he has thrown two touchdown passes or more in all six games in 2012, he has also thrown at least one pick in each of the past four contests, totaling 7 INT. If the Vols have any chance in this game, junior RB Rajion Neal (500 rush yds, 5 TD) will have to come up big. He had back-to-back 100-yard efforts versus Akron and Georgia, but was held to 40 yards (on nine carries) in last week's 41-31 loss at Mississippi State. Although Alabama has the nation's best defense, Tennessee has an outstanding offensive line allowing just three sacks all season, which is tied for the fourth-fewest in the nation. Defensively, this Vols team has given up 430 total yards per game, the 2nd-most in the SEC. They have been scorched both in the running game (179 YPG) and in the passing game (251 YPG). Although it failed to force a turnover in last week's loss, Tennessee has racked up at least three takeaways in half of its games in 2012.