Preview: Tennessee at Alabama
By Douglas Kroll
The year opened with the Tennessee Volunteers ranked third in the country and in high hopes for a national championship. Two losses later, has the Vols sitting 17th in the country, while their bitter rival has charged into the Rose Bowl picture.
The Crimson Tide of Alabama is one of the few remaining undefeated teams in the country and face off against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, AL. In one of the most storied rivalries in college football which dates back to 1901, Alabama leads the all-time series 43-37-7. Tennessee has won the last nine out of ten meetings with the Tide, which includes a classic game the last time they traveled to Bama when they won a 51-43 five overtime thriller.
The Volunteers have had one of the tougher schedules the last few weeks, as this Saturday marks the fourth time in five weeks the Vols will face a team in the top ten. UT lost to #6 Florida 16-7, beat #4 LSU 30-27 in OT, and lost to #5 Georgia 27-14.
The Volunteers were dealt a serious blow against Georgia when two-time captain and career leading tackler Jason Allen sustained a hip injury that will cost him the rest of the season. The pre-season All-American led the SEC last year in tackles.
After a quarterback controversy plagued the team, Rick Clausen has emerged as the teams starter and thrown for 185 yards per game along with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Gerald Riggs Jr. is averaging 92 yards on the ground for the Vols and has scored three times.
Former Alabama starting quarterback Mike Shula leads the Tide in his third season as head coach. Alabama remained undefeated last weekend with a last second field goal against Mississippi. The Tides huge win that vaulted them into the top ten was a 31-3 thrashing of then #5 Florida.
The Tide has been led all season by very efficient quarterback Brodie Croyle. He has throw 9 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions while averaging 224 yards per game. Croyle has also not thrown an interception in his last 127 attempts. Running back Kenneth Darby has also averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 102 yards per game. Fullback Tim Castille leads the team with six touchdowns on the ground.
The Crimson Tide looks for its first 7-0 start since 1996. Kickoff is set for 3:30 Eastern on CBS.
Douglas Kroll is an independent contributor to College Football Poll.com.