|Alabama coach Nick Saban and his talented DBs will look to shut down Tennessee's passing game. (US Presswire)|
Kickoff: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Spread: Alabama by 20.5
Watchability: It's hard to ignore one of the most tradition-filled rivalries in the SEC. Historically, this has been one of the best games of the year, but recently it's been all Alabama. The Vols will throw everything they have at the Tide, but it could get out of hand early in the second half.
Shining stars: Alabama: AJ McCarron isn't as flashy as some of the other elite QBs in the nation, but it's hard to find anybody playing much better than he is right now. He hasn't thrown for more than 220 yards in any game, but he's completing 67.4-percent of his passes and has 12 touchdowns with zero interceptions. Tennessee: Quietly, sophomore LB A.J. Johnson has become one of the best defenders in the league. He's coming off a 21-tackle performance against Mississippi State last week. He's been credited with at least 10 tackles in his last four games. Johnson also has three rushing touchdowns out of the wildcat.
Who could steal the show: Alabama: Tennessee QB Tyler Bray has served up six interceptions in three SEC games, so CB Dee Milliner, who already has two picks on the year, will be looking to take advantage of that. Tennessee: WR is the official position for Cordarrelle Patterson, but he's also lined up at RB and returns kickoffs as well. With Tennessee starting RB Rajion Neal doubtful for the game, look for the Vols to find as many ways as possible to get the ball in Patterson's hands.
You going? Ranking the road trip: There could be a Crimson invasion in Knoxville if some disgruntled Vols fans start unloading their tickets. Still, even if the game isn't close, a night game at Neyland Stadium is always a fun experience.
Magic number for Alabama: 5. Alabama has won five in a row against Tennessee. The Vols have never defeated the Tide with Nick Saban as the coach.
Magic number for Tennessee: 27. That's how many years it's been since the Vols knocked off the No. 1 team in the nation (Auburn, 1985).
The game comes down to: Tennessee has moved the ball and scored on everybody it has played, but the defense has been atrocious. The transition to the 3-4 defense under former Alabama assistant Sal Sunseri has been far from beneficial to this point. The Vols might put a few scores on the board, but can they get any stops? They likely won't get enough to stay too close, and the Alabama defense will prevent the big play. That should lead to a relatively comfortable win for the Crimson Tide.
Eye on College Football's take: So why was the Tide able to blow away Missouri 42-10 on the road after struggling (for a given definition of struggling) with Ole Miss at home? Pretty simple: Against the Rebels, they averaged a surprisingly feeble 3.68 yards per rush and finished with just 125 total; against the Tigers, those numbers were 7.7 per-carry and 362 total. If Alabama does anything similar in Knoxville, the final result will also be similar. The goal for Tennessee, then, is straightforward -- slow the Alabama rushing attack, force McCarron to shoulder more of the load than he's comfortable with, and the Tide offense could be rendered mortal. The bad news for the Volunteers is that they rank 97th in the FBS in yards per-carry allowed, giving up 4.86 a pop. The good news is that if the Tennessee defense plays over its head (and very well could at home), the Tennessee offense has enough firepower in Bray, Patterson and Justin Hunter, and a much-improved offensive line to have some success even against the likes of Alabama. Enough success that the Vols could steal it in the fourth quarter? Of course not, but it's something for Derek Dooley and Co. to shoot for. -- Jerry Hinnen
Prediction: Alabama 38, Tennessee 14
For more up-to-the minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Larry Hartstein and Daniel Lewis, follow @CBSSportsSEC.