Well what did you expect? A miracle? Even though Tennessee fans were hoping for divine intervention, I don’t believe it works that way. Why did the Vol fans expect anything else? After all, Alabama has beaten everyone else so far this season. Why should Tennessee be any different?
Actually, Tennessee played fairly well during the first half, but the second half was a completely different story.
Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) saw a 30-yard touchdown wiped off the board on its opening possession of the second half, and the drive ended three plays later with a missed field goal.
That swing gave Tennessee an early opening in the second half, but it couldn’t find a way to put pressure on the defending BCS champions early.
After going three and out on their next possession, the Vols stopped Alabama and got the ball back the Alabama 42. But that drive stopped short on fourth down when the Tide stuffed A.J. Johnson on fourth-and-1.
Alabama took off on a six-play drive, capped by a 42-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper that gave Alabama a 30-10 lead
But Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC) stormed back down the field on a 44-yard catch-and-run to Justin Hunter.
Two plays later, though, on second-and-13 from the Alabama 21, safety Robert Lester stepped in front Alton Howard in the end zone and intercepted Bray’s pass.
From there, Alabama was off to the races.
A.J. McCarron threw for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns Saturday night as the top-ranked Crimson Tide trounced Tennessee 44-13 at Neyland Stadium. The Tide have scored at least 30 points in each of their first seven games, the longest streak to start a season in school history.
McCarron’s four touchdown passes matched a career high set twice previously. He has 16 touchdown tosses with no interceptions this season. The junior quarterback called it the most complete game Alabama has played all year.
“We set the tone and we stayed on it,” he said. “We never let up, and that was the biggest thing Coach keeps preaching.”
Alabama’s defense also was as relentless as ever.
Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC) had scored at least 31 points in each of its first six games, but the Volunteers couldn’t muster much offense against an Alabama team that entered Saturday leading the nation in total defense, scoring defense, run defense and pass efficiency defense.
Tyler Bray went 13 of 27 for 184 yards with two interceptions and no touchdown passes for Tennessee.
“We got whipped by a great football team in just about every phase,” Dooley said. “I’m really disappointed we didn’t execute a little better on offense. That’s probably the thing I was a little surprised at. The quarterback didn’t play well. I’m not sure why.”
The Vols’ best hopes for a second-half comeback disappeared when they lost the ball on downs after reaching the Alabama 33 early in the third quarter. After Bray threw a third-and-1 incompletion, Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson took a fourth-down snap out of the Vols’ “Beast” formation and was stopped short of the first down.
Alabama then put the game away by reaching the end zone on its next three drives.
Let’s hope that the Vols play better in their remaining games or Dooley might be packing his bags and heading back home to Georgia. Vol fans are not very forgiving and expect to win, not be on the minus side of the scoreboard.
By Nancy Morris