KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A depleted Tennessee team missing seven starters to injury couldn’t measure up to No. 1-ranked Alabama, falling 49-10.
Saturday’s game represented the largest margin of defeat for either team in the series since the Tide scored a 51-0 victory in 1906.
Alabama’s Jalen Hurts scored three touchdowns and the Crimson Tide (7-0 4-0 SEC) scored its 10th and 11th non-offensive TDs of the season in the win over the No. 9-ranked Vols (5-2, 2-2).
Hurts, a freshman quarterback, was 16-of-26 for 143 yards passing and rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries before the sellout crowd of 102,455.
Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs, playing behind the Vols’ fifth different offensive line combination of the season, was 16-of-27 for 92 yards with an interception returned for a touchdown. Dobbs was sacked three times and credited with seven rushing attempts for minus-31 yards.
The Vols finished with 32 yards rushing on 32 attempts, Jalen Hurd leading the way with 28 yards on 13 carries.
Sophomore QB Quinten Dormady came on in relief of Dobbs in the fourth quarter after the Tide built its lead to 49-10, completing 2-of-4 passes for 39 yards.
It was Tennessee’s 10th straight loss to Alabama, and the Vols’ 26th consecutive defeat to top 10 opposition, the longest active streak of its kind in the SEC.
Alabama held a 21-7 lead at the end of a first half it dominated, outgaining Tennessee 309-41 through 30 minutes.
The game could have been a blowout at that stage if not for two big plays by All-SEC defensive end Derek Barnett.
Tennessee trailed the Tide 14-0 in the second quarter when Barnett put a vicious hit on Hurts, forcing a fumble that Quay Picou fell on at the Alabama 11-yard line.
Alvin Kamara rushed for 4 yards on the ensuing play, and scored one play later on a 7-yard burst to cut the Tide’s lead to 14-7 at the 9:41 mark of the second quarter.
Alabama marched 65 yards on six plays on its next possession, Hurts scampering around the right end for a 45-yard TD to make it 21-7.
The Tide drove to the Vols’ 12-yard line on its next possession, but Shy Tuttle tipped a Hurts’ pass and Barnett intercepted.
Four things learned
4. Alabama was as good as advertised, clearly the class of the SEC and worthy of the No. 1 ranking.
3. The Tennessee training room will be full of offensive linemen during the bye week. Starting left tackle Brett Kendrick was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury. UT was already missing two starters who had gotten knocked out of last week’s Texas A&M game, Dylan Wiesman and Jashon Robertson.
2. The Vols linebacker depth has been severely tested. Jalen Reeves-Maybin remained out, and fellow starting linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. (ankle) missed his fifth straight start. Cortez McDowell, knocked out last week, was also missing. Quart’e Sapp suffered a season-ending injury against Ohio on Sept. 17.
1. The defensive tackle depth is in question, suddenly. Danny O’Brien was dismissed on Monday and starter sophomore Kahlil Mckenzie’s first start ended with him leaving the game with an apparent shoulder injury in the first half.
• Eddie Jackson’s 79-yard punt return for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter gave Alabama a 35-10 lead and took the life out of Neyland Stadium, erasing hope for the most optimistic of Tennessee fans.
• Tennessee is not a championship-caliber team heading into its bye week at the midway point of the season. The Vols have too many injuries and are due for some revisions of the playbook, particularly first-down play selection.
• Can Tennessee get healthy enough to run the table after the bye week? The schedule is conducive, with games remaining at South Carolina, vs. Tennessee Tech, vs. Kentucky, vs. Missouri and at Vanderbilt.
• Alabama outgained Tennessee 594-113, outrushing the Vols 438-32.
What it means
• Tennessee needs Florida to lose a game to regain control of its own destiny. The Gators, who have one loss, have a remaining SEC schedule that consists of Georgia (Jacksonville), at Arkansas, vs. South Carolina and at LSU.
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