The bad news: Tennessee’s found itself another hole. The good news: They’ve been there so often, the dirt should have confirmed to their orange silhouette by now.
For the fifth time in six games Tennessee finds itself in a halftime hole as No. 1 Alabama has jumped to a 21-7 edge over No. 9 Tennessee in Knoxville.
Alabama punted or lost a fumble on four of its first five possession, but the other touch — their second of the game — moved 91 yards over eight snaps, culminating in a 29-yard ArDarius Stewart rush to give the Tide a 7-0 lead with 3:29 to play in the first quarter. That advantage expanded to 14-0 just before the end of the frame when, amid possible holding on Volunteers running back Jalen Hurd, Ronnie Harrison accepted a Josh Dobbs screen pass and returned it untouched for a 58-yard pick-six. The score was the Tide’s 10th non-offensive touchdown of the season — and Harrison the seventh different Alabama defender to notch one of those scores — and moved the club’s streak of non-offensive scores to nine straight games.
Tennessee answered with a quasi-defensive score of its own. Derek Barnett forced a fumble on a sack of Jalen Hurts deep in crimson territory, which the Vols converted into an 11-yard touchdown drive on two Alvin Kamara runs.
Alabama pushed the lead back to 14 when Hurts broke free for a 45-yard scoring dash, but another, and perhaps fatal, Tide scoring march was again halted by Barnett when he caught a deflection at the Tennessee 25-yard line with 1:24 to play before the break. The Vols could not make anything out of the turnover because Tennessee has gotten approximately nothing out of its offense today. None of the Vols’ nine possessions have traveled further than 15 yards, and six have moved less than seven yards.
Hurts has completed 8-of-16 passes for 52 yards plus the interception, but has rushed six times for a game-high 78 yards and a touchdown.
As a team, Alabama has out-rushed Tennessee 245-11, out-gained the Vols 309-41 and limited Dobbs to only 6-of-15 throws for 30 yards with a pick-six.
Alabama will receive to open the second half.