Tennessee is improved under new head coach Butch Jones. That much we know after seeing the Volunteers beat a ranked South Carolina team last week.
But there’s a long way to go before Tennessee can hang with the likes of Alabama.
The No. 1 Crimson Tide served this reminder to the Vols in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, whipping the visiting team every which way while jumping out to a 35-0 halftime lead.
Alabama piled up 292 yards of offense and 16 first downs while holding Tennessee to just six first downs and 143 total yards. Heisman Trophy candidate A.J. McCarron was 13 of 17 for 180 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon ran for 40 yards and two scores.
Tennessee’s best chance to score came late in the second quarter when the Vols drove deep into Alabama territory. But the drive ended ignominiously when Justin Worley’s pass was picked off by Landon Collins (who started for an injured Vinnie Sunseri) at the Alabama 11-yard line and returned 89 yards for a touchdown. Checkmate.
This game is in the bag for Alabama. The only drama left may be whether the Tide can get its third shutout in the SEC this season.