Alabama made quick work of Tennessee on Saturday, scoring three touchdowns in the first quarter and two more in the second to put the game well out of reach for a rebuilding Volunteers squad. The 45-10 final score came as no surprise, and it got Alabama one step closer to another BCS national title game appearance.
Alabama fans had some bones to pick about the Tide's performance, but there were plenty of positives to take away from a big win like this. Roll 'Bama Roll liked what they saw out of wide receiver Amari Cooper, who scored the first touchdown of the game. The Tide have a deep receiving corps that makes the offense a difficult matchup for opponents:
Amari Cooper is starting to look like he did last season when he broke all of Julio Jones' freshmen records (59 receptions for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns). He snagged a few balls out of the air and showed great speed especially on the 54-yard touchdown dash to start the scoring. His TD was his second of the season and second in consecutive games.
Part of the credit has to go to the fine season fellow receivers Kevin Norwood (23 catches for 348 yards, TDs), Christion Jones (27-281, 2 TD), and DeAndrew White (22-329, 3 TD) are all having. This Crimson Tide receiving corps is proving that you cannot double-team anyone without leaving someone else dangerously open.
Seven players have at least 10 receptions this season, and eight have 100+ yards receiving. The effectiveness of the passing game has helped Alabama average more than 41 points per game so far, and the Tide are also getting outstanding production out of the running game.
On the other side, Tennessee fans were understandably not happy about losing, but they are also realistic about where the Tennessee program stands right now, and how much further it has to go in order to start competing with the SEC's best teams.
Rocky Top Talk's Joel Hollingsworth doesn't think the blowout loss does anything to diminish what the Vols have done in Butch Jones' first season at the helm:
Nothing that happened today should take away from what this Tennessee team has accomplished so far this season, and if the three primary preseason goals were to get an upset against a ranked team, make it to a bowl game, and hold on to the recruiting class, one of the goals is met and the other two are still on the table. Team 117 needs two more wins to get bowl eligible, it has two additional excellent opportunities to overachieve on its upset goal, and there is no sign of the Class of 2014 faltering. Alabama, like Oregon, are simply at a higher level now than Tennessee is, and if the team keeps progressing, we'll get there sooner rather than later.
Tennessee still has tough games against Missouri and Auburn to come, but with Vanderbilt and Kentucky rounding out the regular season schedule, the Volunteers definitely have a chance to pick up the two wins they need in order to get bowl eligible. And after two sub-.500 seasons, that certainly would be a welcome development.
The highlights from Alabama's win over Tennessee: