10 reasons Tennessee doesn’t have a chance versus Alabama

Before we begin, it should be noted that teams have to actually play the game to determine a victor. As much as people, such as myself, like to try to declare a winner before either team even steps on the field, that’s not how things work.

In other words, TINSTAAGV — there is no such thing as a guaranteed victory.

With that being said, it’s been an awfully long time since the Tennessee Volunteers managed to take down their rival from the West — 4,016 days to be exact.

Alabama’s 10-year run of dominance against the Vols under Nick Saban has been impressive, and it is likely to continue.

As a matter of fact, here are 10 reasons Tennessee doesn’t have a shot Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

1. Vols’ true freshman QB is making only his second start

There’s no doubt that Jarrett Guarantano has the chance to be a legitimate quarterback for Tennessee, but Saturday won’t give him much of an opportunity to show it.

Guarantano will be making only the second start, and he’ll be doing it on the road versus the No. 4 defense in the country.

His legs could cause the Alabama defense some issues, but the Tide has never been beaten by a true freshman quarterback in the Saban era.

2. The game is in Tuscaloosa

It’ll already be hard enough for Guarantano and the rest of the Tennessee offense to get anything going against Alabama’s defense, but having to do it in a hostile environment makes it that much more difficult.

Kellen Mond was able to muster up some magical moments in Week 6, but he did it with the help of a stingy defense and the 12th Man at his back — neither of which will be the case for the Vols.

3. Tide’s rushing offense vs. Vols’ rushing defense

Alabama has the conference’s top-ranked rushing offense — averaging 302.6 yards.

On the other hand, Tennessee has the conference’s worst rushing defense — giving up 242.8 yards per game.

The Tide absolutely destroyed the Vols’ run defense last season, putting up 409 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Alabama outdo last season’s totals.

4. Damien Harris will continue his Heisman campaign

Damien Harris has been a terror for opposing run defenses this season.

He leads the SEC in yards per carry (9.19), is third in rushing yards (625) and has the second-most touchdowns (9), trailing only Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson (13).

Harris has done all this despite not even being in the top 20 in carries per game — he’s seeing only 9.71 per game.

His momentum has been building slowly since SEC play started, and Saturday gives him the perfect chance to continue to show why he should be considered a Heisman Trophy candidate.

5. Alabama isn’t letting up against weaker SEC teams

It’s been a long time since any SEC team has gone on a run like Alabama has against conference opponents this season.

In their four SEC games so far, the Tide has outscored opponents 193-31, an average victory of 48-8. The two home games (Ole Miss and Arkansas) have averaged a final score of 54-6.

It just seems like Alabama is on a mission this season.

6. Tennessee has no continuity on its offensive line

Going against a defensive front like Alabama’s, an opponent really should have a settled offensive line. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Tennessee.

For the fifth time this season, the Vols will be shuffling things up on their offensive line for Saturday’s game. It makes sense, considering they surrendered seven sacks against South Carolina in Week 7, but there is no reason to believe the shakeup will help Tennessee in any way.

7. Nick Saban vs. Butch Jones

This will be the fifth time that Jones has gone head-to-head against Saban, and so far, he’s 0-4 with Saban averaging a 23.3-point margin of victory.

The silver lining is that Tennessee has at least managed to keep it close in two of those matches — a 19-14 loss in 2015 and a 34-20 loss in 2014 that saw them outscore Alabama 13-7 in the second half.

8. RB John Kelly should be a non-factor

The Tennessee offense does have some bright spots — including WR Marquez Callaway and OG Trey Smith — but none are brighter than RB John Kelly.

The junior from Detroit, Mich., is currently No. 2 in the SEC in rushing yards per game (92) — only trailing Georgia’s Nick Chubb (98.3).

The bad new is that running backs don’t typically have a lot of success against Alabama’s defense. Saban, being a Bill Belichick disciple, normally does a good job of taking an offense’s main weapon out of the equation — as long as it isn’t a quarterback.

9. Another opportunity for a statement game from Alabama

With four teams in the top 10 losing last week — including Auburn — one would think that the Tide would see some breathing room, but this is Alabama, after all.

Typically, there would be a lot of people who believed that a victory against the Vols wouldn’t be overly impressive, but Alabama has managed to curb that a little bit this season by annihilating its opponents.

With it being a rivalry game and no one giving Tennessee a chance, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Alabama come out flat.

If they don’t, that will speak volumes for the team. Saturday gives them a chance to show a continued, unwavering focus on the goal at hand — continuing another run at a national title.

10. Some of Alabama’s players have already lit up the victory cigars

It’s almost a certainty at this point that sophomore LB Mack Wilson is going to be hearing from Saban.

On Wednesday, Wilson sent a tweet out saying “We lighting it up this weekend.” For anyone who knows the tradition, Alabama players, coaches and fans have historically lit up victory cigars following a win over Tennessee — the tradition started in 1961.

A week after getting chewed out for a personal foul penalty, Wilson will be looking to avoid being at the receiving end of whatever comes from Saban should Alabama lose.


Source: Saturday Down South

Coach Ed Orgeron leads No. 24 LSU in return to Ole Miss

LSU’s Ed Orgeron will return to Oxford, Mississippi, on Saturday as a head coach for the first time in nearly 10 years.

This time, he’ll try to leave a winner.

Orgeron had a rough tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss from 2005-07, finishing with a 10-25 record, including a 3-21 mark in the Southeastern Conference. Nearly a decade later, the Louisiana native will try to lead No. 24 LSU (5-2, 2-1 SEC) to its third straight win when it travels to face Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2) on Saturday.

Ole Miss interim coach Matt Luke knows Orgeron well, working for him in Oxford in 2005. He said he’s got a lot of respect for his former boss and it’s easy to see why LSU has had success over the past few weeks in wins over Florida and Auburn.

“They did a good job getting off the field defensively,” Luke said. “That’s been the difference in their wins. Offensively, they give you a lot of schematic problems with their shifts and motions trying to out-leverage and out-flank you. They have a lot of good players.”

LSU is concerned with Ole Miss’ prolific passing attack. The Rebels lead the SEC in yards passing by a wide margin and sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson has thrown for 2,143 yards, 17 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

“Shea is a gunslinger,” LSU defensive end Christian LaCouture. “The ball comes so fast out of his hand. He does a lot of great things and you have to contain him.”

LSU has one of the better pass defenses in the league, giving up about 170 yards passing per game. The Tigers will have their hands full with stopping the Rebels’ talented receivers, including A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, DaMarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson.

“There are three receivers on this team that will be drafted in the top-three rounds,” Orgeron said. “They’re very talented. This is going to be a challenge for us.”

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Here are other things to watch when LSU travels to face Ole Miss:

PROLIFIC PATTERSON: The Rebels QB has been playing like a veteran even though Saturday will be just his 10th career start. He’s put up big numbers through the season’s first half while also being efficient, completing nearly 66 percent of his passes.

REBELS NEED DEFENSE: The Ole Miss defense was far from perfect in last week’s 57-35 win over Vanderbilt, but the Rebels did show some big-play ability that could serve them well in the season’s second half. The Rebels forced two turnovers and had seven sacks, including three by senior defensive end Marquis Haynes.

WATCH OUT FOR CHARK: LSU receiver D.J. Chark had the best game of his career in the Tigers’ win over Auburn last week, catching five passes for 150 yards. LSU’s passing game has been a little hit-and-miss this season, but QB Danny Etling was 13 of 24 passing for 206 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions against the Tigers.

LSU’S WHITE IS EVERYWHERE: LSU linebacker Devin White has had at least 10 tackles in five games in a row and has 77 tackles this season, which leads the SEC. He had a career-high 15 tackles against Auburn.

NOT GOOD VS. NATIONALLY RANKED: Ole Miss is playing its third game in four weeks against a nationally ranked team. The first two games didn’t go so well — the Rebels fell 66-3 to top-ranked Alabama and 44-23 to Auburn.

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More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25 .

FIE - In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, Mississippi quarterback Shea Patterson (20) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn in Auburn, Ala. Patterson was supposed to be an elite quarterback recruit when he came to campus and so far, he hasn't disappointed. The sophomore leads the SEC in yards passing while helping hold together a program that's faced plenty of adversity. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning, File)

FIE – In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, Mississippi quarterback Shea Patterson (20) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn in Auburn, Ala. Patterson was supposed to be an elite quarterback recruit when he came to campus and so far, he hasn’t disappointed. The sophomore leads the SEC in yards passing while helping hold together a program that’s faced plenty of adversity. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning, File)

LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark (7) returns a punt for a touchdown as cornerback Andraez Williams (29) blocks Auburn's Eli Stove (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark (7) returns a punt for a touchdown as cornerback Andraez Williams (29) blocks Auburn’s Eli Stove (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

LSU wide receiver Jonathan Giles (89) and linebacker Donnie Alexander (48) celebrate victory over Florida 17-16 with LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, second from right, and his wife Kelly Oregon after an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

LSU wide receiver Jonathan Giles (89) and linebacker Donnie Alexander (48) celebrate victory over Florida 17-16 with LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, second from right, and his wife Kelly Oregon after an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


Source: USA Today Fan Sports Poll

Kentucky tries to stay on a roll against Mississippi State

Kentucky and Mississippi State have each had solid, albeit under-the-radar first half starts to their seasons.

Both have plenty the play for, though the Wildcats have a little extra motivation when they face the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Kentucky (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) is alone in second place in the SEC’s Eastern Division and still controls its own destiny with a game against division leader Georgia on Nov. 18.

Kentucky has won 12 of 16 regular season games dating back to last season. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops — who is in his fifth season — has done a good job.

“It looks a lot like how we built our program,” Mullen said. “Getting guys to believe and they play really hard and then putting them in a system where they can be successful. They are flexible in what they do, both offensively and defensively.”

Mississippi State and Mullen had won seven straight games in the series until Kentucky’s 40-38 victory last season in Lexington. The Wildcats’ Austin MacGinnis made a 51-yard field goal as time expired to win the game.

Mississippi State (4-2, 1-2) is trying to build off of last week’s 35-10 win over BYU. The Bulldogs had back-to-back road losses to Georgia and Auburn, but are undefeated at home, including a 37-7 win over LSU on Sept. 16.

In the BYU game, Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was at his dual-threat best, throwing for 241 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Stoops said the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses.

“He’s just so physical,” Stoops said. “He’s a big, strong guy, and can throw the ball. He certainly can handle designed quarterback run.”

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Here are some other things to watch when the Bulldogs host the Wildcats:

CHASING DAK: Mississippi State’s Fitzgerald has accounted for 60 career touchdowns, including 34 passing and 26 rushing. That’s second in school history behind current Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, who had 114. Fitzgerald broke Prescott’s record with his 10th career 100-yard rushing game against BYU last week.

GOOD VS. THE EAST: Mullen has a 14-6 record against teams in the SEC’s Eastern Division during his career, including a 7-2 record at home with five straight wins. Kentucky is Mississippi State’s permanent SEC East opponent and Mullen is 7-1 against the Wildcats during his tenure.

HARD TO GET FITZ: Mississippi State has allowed just three sacks this season, which is the fewest in the SEC and tied for the third-fewest in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

GOOD VS. GOOD: Mississippi State is running for nearly 262 yards per game, which ranks third in the SEC. Kentucky will counter with a defense that allows just 97 yards per game, which is also third in the conference.

QUOTABLE: Stoops on the first half of Kentucky’s season: “The bottom line is that we have won five games, which is very good. We are doing very good in turnover margin and I think the team has found ways to win when maybe the other side is not playing its best.”

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More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25 .

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen watches a replay on the video board during the first half of an NCAA college football game against BYU in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen watches a replay on the video board during the first half of an NCAA college football game against BYU in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

Mississippi State wide receiver Gabe Myles (5) takes a selfie with a group of fans after their win over BYU in an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

Mississippi State wide receiver Gabe Myles (5) takes a selfie with a group of fans after their win over BYU in an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) prepares to pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against BYU in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) prepares to pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against BYU in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. celebrates as he leaves the field after an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 40-34. (AP Photo/David Stephenson)

Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. celebrates as he leaves the field after an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 40-34. (AP Photo/David Stephenson)

Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen (41) celebrates a missed Missouri field goal-attempt during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/David Stephenson)

Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen (41) celebrates a missed Missouri field goal-attempt during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/David Stephenson)


Source: USA Today Fan Sports Poll