Over the course of Nick Saban’s extended tenure with the Alabama Crimson Tide, every program has had multiple chances to knock off the kings of college football. Only a small handful of programs have never done it. Two teams have failed to do so despite playing the Tide every year.
One of those teams is Tennessee, but the Vols have more hope this year than the past four combined. Tennessee heads into this game undefeated with one of the best offenses in the country. The Vols have proven themselves against strong SEC schools, and they will have a hostile environment in Knoxville ready to welcome the Tide.
This is the most hyped matchup, between these teams, of the entire Saban era. Can Tennessee finally make this a rivalry again? Will Alabama right the ship on the road? Let’s break down key details and make some NCAAF picks for this rivalry game.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday, October 15, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Neyland Stadium
The last time Tennessee beat Alabama
The last time Tennessee beat Alabama was in 2006. For perspective, that was before the first iPhone came out. Instagram had not been invented. Standalone VCRs were common. “SexyBack” was the top song, and Hannah Montana made its debut.
There are Tennessee fans who are legally allowed to drive who have never seen a victory against the Crimson Tide. That’s how long Saban’s dominance has lasted in college football. However, all of that pain can be forgotten with one win at home. The cigar smoke will billow from Knoxville for the entire week.
That’s enough about the actual rivalry. Let’s break down what we need to know about this game.
Is Bryce Young Healthy?
Bryce Young went down against Arkansas with a shoulder injury, and he was day-to-day for all of last week. He seemed to be a true game-time decision, but he eventually had to sit out. Alabama started Jalen Milroe, who undoubtedly struggled against Texas A&M. The passing offense was a shadow of itself, and turnovers kept the Aggies in this one until the final play.
Since Young was almost able to play last week and the game is so important on Saturday, most assume he will play. Now, does that mean that he is healthy enough to be his true self? We’ll get some information throughout the week, but he could still be in pain.
The offense clearly revolves around a strong passing game, but Young’s presence will do more than just that for the Tide. He keeps the team calm through tough moments, and he can turn nothing into something with his creativity. He does so much to negate mistakes and keep Alabama in front of the chains.
Tennessee’s biggest weakness is the secondary, which took a hit after safety Jaylen McCollough was arrested with a felony assault charge. If McCollough misses this game, it will be even more important for the Tide to exploit the secondary early and often.
A Heisman Moment?
Hendon Hooker is flying under the radar as a Heisman candidate. With a tough slate to end the year, he could work his way into contention with a few strong games. This could be his first chance at a true Heisman moment.
Plenty of quarterbacks have had Heisman moments against Alabama’s defense. Joe Burrow did that in 2019. Johnny Manziel became a legend in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Cam Newton strengthened his grip on the award back in 2010. Hooker could get a similar opportunity if he can be the first quarterback in 16 years to beat Alabama football. At the very least, he would drink for free in every bar in the entire state of Tennessee.
Time for NCAAF Picks
Since we don’t have confirmation on the availability of Bryce Young, this is a hard game to pick. If he is confirmed to play, the line will likely take a jump. For that reason, you might want to either bet on the Tide now or wait and bet on the Vols later in the week.
However, I still think the Vols will cover in a high-scoring game. Both teams have great offenses, and both defenses have seen miscues in recent games. While I won’t go as far as picking a Vols win, I like them to cover.
You could wait to see if the line gives you more value later in the week, but I like it as of right now.
NCAAF Pick: Tennessee +7.5 (-110) at DraftKings
NCAAF Pick: Over 65.5 (-105) at PointsBet