Five times in six weeks, Tennessee emerged from the grave. There would not be a sixth.
No. 1 Alabama jumped on No. 9 Tennessee early and kept the Vols pinned through the entire afternoon, cruising to a 49-10 drop-kicking in Knoxville. The win pushes Alabama’s streak to 10 straight victories over Tennessee — seven of them by 14 points or more — which stands just one shy of the Tide’s record streak of 11 in a series that dates back to 1901.
True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, playing once again like anything but a true freshman, a punishing offensive line and a relentless defense proved to be far too much against a spirited but depleted and exhausted Tennessee squad. The Tide out-rushed Tennessee 422-27, the most single-game rushing yards by an Alabama team since 1992, the last pre-Nick Saban Tide championship squad.
Tennessee spotted Alabama its customary 14-0 first-quarter lead behind a 29-yard ArDarius Stewart end around and a 58-yard pick-six by Ronnie Harrison — the 10th non-offensive touchdown of Alabama’s season, the seventh different Tide defender to score and enough to secure a non-offensive score in nine consecutive games. The Vols briefly climbed back in the game when Derek Barnett sacked and stripped Hurts deep in his own territory, allowing two Alvin Kamara rushes over an 11-yard drive to pull Big Orange back within 14-7 at the 9:41 mark of the second quarter.
But Alabama immediately answered, moving 65 yards in six plays, mostly on the ground, the last 45 coming on a Hurts keeper down the right sideline.
Any hope of a second half revival was snuffed out when another Hurts scoring dash, this one from two yards out, pushed the lead to 28-7 six minutes into the third quarter and, on his only extended drive of the day, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones essentially conceded the game by kicking a 37-yard field goal to inch the Vols back within 28-10 at the 4:03 mark of the third quarter. Alabama again responded with an 8-play, 75-yard drive capped by Hurts’s third rushing score of the game. He finished the game hitting 16-of-26 passes for 143 yards with an interception while rushing 12 times for a game-high 132 yards and three scores. Hurts is the first Alabama signal-caller in 15 years with two 100-yard rushing games in the same season — and it’s only mid-October — and the second consecutive opposing quarterback to drop three rushing scores on Tennessee.
Alabama notched its 11th non-offensive score of the season on the opening play of the fourth quarter when Eddie Jackson raced a punt 79 yards down the left sideline to push the lead to 42-10. Bo Scarborough added the exclamation point with an 85-yard scoring dash with 11:38 to play. In all, Alabama rushed the ball 49 times for 438 yards (8.9 a pop) and five touchdowns, while its defense limited Tennessee to 32 yards on as many carries. Josh Dobbs, fresh off a game where he did anything he wanted to Texas A&M, connected on 16-of-27 passes for 92 yards with an interception while losing 31 yards in the run game to sacks. Kamara, who a week ago bested the century mark in rushing and receiving, totaled 21 rushing yards and two catches for seven yards.
Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) eases into a much-needed bye next week while Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) returns to Tuscaloosa for a showdown with unbeaten and sixth-ranked Texas A&M.