Anytime a team enters a game as an almost three-touchdown underdog, it allows the opportunity for plenty of bold predictions. That is the case for Tennessee this weekend, as the Volunteers host the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Neyland Stadium on Saturday for a 3:30 ET kick-off on CBS. I have several bold predictions for the match-up here.
Tennessee snaps the 13-game winning streak to the Tide
I guess this is as bold as it gets, right? Tennessee is a sizeable underdog, and they have looked atrocious over the last six quarters of play. However, I think back to last season, and the Vols had a chance to be in that game late until a rogue play from Jarrett Guarantano opened the flood gates for a 35-13 defeat. While Tennessee is certainly in a lull, I believe the Vols are better equipped to take down Alabama this year than they were last season. Alabama’s defense is more vulnerable than in year’s past, if Tennessee can get momentum going early, anything is possible. I don’t think the Vols can win a shootout, so they are going to have to have several breaks go their way.
Jarrett Guarantano Remains Tennessee’s Starter After the Game
Make No Mistakes about it, I believe Jarrett Guarantano is going to get the start against Alabama tomorrow. The big question for Tennessee is what happens coming out of the bye week? I think Jeremy Pruitt is forced to move away from Guarantano, but who knows? If Guarantano remains the quarterback after this game, he almost had to set the world on fire against the Crimson Tide, who possesses a lot of talent on the back end, and they have found their identity in forcing turnovers, especially against Georgia in the second half. If Guarantano plays well enough to give Tennessee an opportunity to win the game, you have to like his chances to move forward at the position. I will have to see it to believe it.
The Vols rush for more than 200 yards on the ground Tennessee’s offensive line was dominated by Georgia, but Alabama does not have the same dominant qualities. The offensive line has a chance to show that they are as good as advertised, and rushing for 200 yards on the ground against any team is a solid day, but doing it against Alabama allows you to control the clock, keep their fast-paced offense on the sideline, and should allow an opportunity to stay in the game.
Tennessee forces multiple turnovers
Najee Harris practically never fumbles and Mac Jones is as efficient as any quarterback with the football, so this is going to be a tough task for the Vols. If you want to win against Alabama, you are going to have to take the ball away from them and kill drives. Nick Saban has a field goal kicker now, and Alabama’s offense rarely ever stalls for three and outs, so they are going to score points if you don’t force turnovers. I am not sure when the Tide las turned it over multiple times, but if Tennessee has hope for Saturday, this likely needs to happen.