The No. 9-ranked Tennessee Vols hosted the No. 1 team in the nation, the Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday.
Both teams went back and forth on their first couple drives, until Alabama broke through Tennessee’s run defense late in the first quarter. At one point the Tide drove for ten yards on three consecutive runs. That set up a 29-yard reverse play, resulting in a touchdown for Alabama’s ArDarius Stewart with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
Josh Dobbs was sacked three times in the first quarter. Dobbs also threw a screen pass in the final minute of the first quarter, which Alabama picked off and returned for a touchdown. It was Alabama’s ninth straight game with a non-offensive touchdown. The Tide led 14-0 after the first quarter.
Defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, who started in place for the dismissed Danny O’Brien, headed to the locker room during the first quarter to get his right shoulder examined.
While turnover woes continued for the Vols, they were able to force turnovers on Alabama’s offense, too. Defensive end Derek Barnett made a strip sack on the Tide’s Jalen Hurts, which was recovered at the Alabama 11-yard line. Alvin Kamara would punch in Tennessee’s first touchdown of the day on the next drive, making it a 14-7 deficit with 9:41 left in the half.
Alabama made it 21-7 in the second quarter on Hurts’ 45-yard rushing touchdown.
When the Tide threatened again late in the half, defensive tackle Shy Tuttle batted away one of Hurts’ passes, and Derek Barnett picked it off for an interception.