To say the Arkansas victory was an adventure would be putting things mildly. It was somehow unbearably tense and incredibly easy. On one hand, the Tide gave up 400 yards passing to a run-first team; on the other, Bama forced three interceptions, one of which was returned 100 yards for a touchdown, by “The Falconer” Minkah Fitzpatrick. Throw in another defensive touchdown on a fumble return and the re-emergence of a dominating Alabama rushing attack and the Hogs must feel like they got off easy only losing by 19, while Austin Allen must have felt like an attractive Eastern European chick who just met Donald Trump after this one.
Now, the Tide must pivot towards a crucial showdown against the Tennessee Vols, who seem to have harnessed some of the power of 2013 Auburn in terms of catching lucky bounces even when the ball is flat. Yes the Vols are coming off a hard loss to Texas A&M but they had no business being in the game in the first place, yet took the Aggies to two overtimes. This following the Hail-iest of Marys against Georgia, which itself was preceded by a come-from-behind win over Florida. They say it’s better to be lucky than good; it seems as if that’ll be the match-up on this Third Saturday in October.
That’s not to say Tennessee isn’t good. They have two dynamic running backs in Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. Hurd may be limited due to suffering a concussion against Georgia, but Kamara is more than capable of carrying the load if Hurd isn’t full-go. Josh Dobbs is a true dual-threat quarterback in that he either looks like a dumbass or makes opponents look like morons. Dobb’s go-to receiver, Josh Malone, is very good and can easily abuse Alabama’s secondary if they allow him to do so. The Vols are replete with offensive talent, they just seem to lull opponents to sleep before they decide to show their full capabilities.
At full strength, the Volunteer defense could prove to be a formidable challenge against Alabama’s offense; however, the Vol D is littered with reserves due to injuries, suspensions, and injury-suspensions. The Tide and offensive wunderkind/formerly revered Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin should be fully capable of exploiting match-ups and exposing weaknesses against the walking MASH unit now calling itself the Tennessee defense. Seeing as this is potentially the last time the Lane Train pulls into Knoxville, I fully expect him to pull out all the stops to ensure total domination of the Vols and avoid another ass chewing from The Nicktator.
As in all rivalry games, expect the unexpected. This game will come down to making the fewest mistakes on the field and by the coaches. Butch Jones’s seat might be cooling, but he’s still facing enormous pressure to win, this one game in particular. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t empty the cupboard in an effort to win and appease Vol boosters who are undoubtedly growing restless with their continued subservience to Nick Saban and his flying wood chipper of death known as the Alabama Crimson Tide. (Hint: there’s a reason #StarDarius and the Assassins carry an ax.)
Tennessee will get theirs, but Bama will get more. Tide fans, get your cigars ready like you’re Bill Clinton on National Intern Day.