Alabama Blows Out Tennessee 45-7 Behind Dominant Defense

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts runs the ball against Tennessee defensive back Rashaan Gaulden during the first half an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide remained undefeated Saturday by manhandling the Tennessee Volunteers 45-7 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Alabama’s defense turned in another dominant performance, as it held Tennessee to 108 yards of total offense and limited Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to 44 yards, no touchdowns and one interception on 9-of-16 passing.

The Crimson Tide improved to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC with the victory, while Tennessee dropped to 3-4 with a 0-4 mark in conference play.

Alabama leaned on its running game, as Damien Harris gained 72 yards and scored one touchdown on 13 carries and Bo Scarbrough ran for a pair of scores.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts was efficient with 198 passing yards, one touchdown and no interceptions before freshman Tua Tagovailoa replaced him with a 28-0 lead in the third quarter.

Alabama imposed its will early by scoring on its first offensive drive, which covered 63 yards on 12 plays over 5:35.

It ended with Scarbrough’s dive over the pile on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line for the score, as seen in this video courtesy of SEC on CBS:

Alabama’s offense stagnated for a bit after that, but it put together a 15-play, 85-yard drive late in the second quarter punctuated by another Scarbrough touchdown run on fourth down to help make it 14-0.

Following yet another three-and-out by Tennessee, Alabama got the ball back and tacked on another score just prior to halftime.

Harris found paydirt from 11 yards out with 1:18 remaining in the half, and the advantage ballooned to 21-0 after the extra point:

After that score, ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe expressed his belief that Harris is destined to play on Sundays in the near future:

Tennessee limped into the locker room down multiple scores, and it showed no signs of life offensively, per Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:

Guarantano and Co. couldn’t get anything going against Alabama’s defense in the first half, which is a plight shared by many this season.

Despite that, Tennessee alum and former NFL All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth placed the blame on Volunteers head coach Butch Jones:

Alabama’s avalanche of momentum continued to pour down at the start of the second half when a 14-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to tight end Irv Smith Jr. helped make it 28-0 for the Tide.

Head coach Nick Saban was comfortable enough with the lead to replace Hurts with Tagovailoa, which led to one of the Vols’ few highlights.

After driving Bama down the field, Tagovailoa threw a pick to Tennessee linebacker Daniel Bituli, who returned it 97 yards for a touchdown.

That ended a 12-quarter touchdown drought for the Vols and represented their first time reaching the end zone in nearly one month.

Even that was somewhat tainted, though, since defensive back Rashaan Gaulden drew a 15-yard penalty for flipping off the Alabama fans at the end of the play, as seen in this video from Fox Sports Knoxville (warning: video may be NSFW):

The Tennessee touchdown did little to take the wind out of Alabama’s sails, as it answered with a field goal on the ensuing drive before Tagovailoa scored on a 23-yard run to help extend the lead to 38-7 in the fourth.

Bama continued to pour it on in the waning minutes, as Tagovailoa added a passing touchdown to his stat line with a 60-yard strike to Henry Ruggs III.

The Crimson Tide thoroughly outclassed Tennessee on Saturday as expected, and they left no doubt as to whether they are the top team in the nation.

After a bye next week, however, Alabama will face perhaps its toughest test when it hosts No. 24 LSU.

It has just one more ranked opponent on the schedule beyond that, though, in the form of No. 21 Auburn.

Only one of Tennessee’s five remaining games is against a ranked opponent, but a loss to Kentucky next week could put it in significant danger of missing out on a bowl game.

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