How Can the Tennessee Volunteers Pull Off the Upset Against the Alabama Crimson Tide?

By Taylor Sturm
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Week 8 of the college football season brought huge upsets all across the SEC. The Ole Miss Rebels downed the LSU Tigers, the Auburn Tigers halted Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M‘s offense, Vanderbilt found a marquee win over the Georgia Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers upset the No. 11 South Carolina Gamecocks. As expected, however, top team in the SEC, the Alabama Crimson Tide, rolled over the lowly Arkansas Razorbacks with ease.

Next up for the Crimson Tide is a rejuvenated Tennessee team. The Volunteers are 26-point underdogs in this matchup between old school SEC rivals, but what could they do to pull off the biggest upset of the season, and perhaps in Tennessee football history, on Saturday?

Tennessee’s defense has to come up big. They’re second in the conference in coming up with interceptions and sixth in the country. Their defensive line forces fumbles and rushes the passer extremely well. Defensive backs Cameron Sutton and Brian Randolph will have to have huge games against the Crimson Tide and come up with a crucial turnover or two. Tennessee must stop A.J. McCarron, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake.

Vols quarterback Justin Worley must have the best game of his life. If Tennessee is to put up a fight against Alabama, Worley will have to be extremely efficient and have no turnovers. Alabama’s top safety, Vinnie Sunseri, is out due to injury, and he leaves a huge hole in the Crimson Tide defense. Volunteer receiver Marquez North is a future NFL talent and can have a huge game against Alabama. Worley must get the ball to North early in the game if they want to win.

Finally, for the Volunteers to come off with the upset, senior running back Rajion Neal must rush for at least 150 yards. Tennessee has one of the best offensive lines in the country, and it’s time for Antonio Richardson and company to prove their dominance against a great defense.

Remember, the Volunteers could easily be just a one loss team coming into this game. Butch Jones threw away an easily winnable Florida game by benching Worley in favor of Nathan Peterman, who threw two interceptions and fumbled twice. The loss to Georgia came in overtime due to a heartbreaking fumble by Alton “Pig” Howard that was initially ruled a touchdown. The only loss that the Volunteers never really looked like winning was against the Oregon Ducks, and Tennessee is the only team that the Ducks have faced this season that Oregon didn’t score more than 20 points against in the first quarter.

Alabama will come off of the Tennessee game and go to a bye week looking to face their second real test of the season against LSU. The Crimson Tide cannot afford to overlook this rejuvenated Tennessee team or they might end up on the outside of the BCS National Championship game because of good ole Rocky Top.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS or add him to your network on Google

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