Statistical Comparison

Ordinarily at this point in the season, seven games in for Alabama and six for Tennessee, it would seem that a comparison of statistics might have some meaning. In truth, because Bama has its most difficult games remaining, while the Vols have already played the toughest teams on their schedule, the numbers may be misleading.

Alabama, 5-2 overall and 2-2 in Southeastern Conference games, takes on 11th-ranked Tennessee, 5-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC play, at 2:30 p.m. CDT (3:30 eastern time) Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. CBS will televise the game.

Alabama has defeated two weak SEC opponents and lost to two mediocre league teams, while the Vols have defeated Florida and Georgia and lost to Auburn. Also affecting the comparison of statistics is that Alabama will be without its top quarterback, Brodie Croyle, and top runner, Ray Hudson. Hudson leads the SEC in rushing and all-purpose yards even though he was injured and lost for the season in the Kentucky game two Saturdays ago. The one common opponent for Bama and UT is Ole Miss. Alabama, with Croyle and Hudson, defeated the Rebels, 28-7, in Tuscaloosa in the second game of the season. Last week the Vols came from behind to beat Mississippi, 21-17, in Oxford.

In scoring offense, Alabama is fourth in the SEC and 31st in the nation, averaging 30.4 points per game, while Tennessee is seventh in the SEC and 50th in the nation, averaging 27.3. In scoring defense, Bama is third in the league and ninth nationally, allowing 13.0 points per game, while the Vols are seventh in the conference and 43rd in the nation, giving up 21.2 points per game.

In Red Zone offense, Alabama is second in the SEC with 25 scores in 28 opportunities inside the opponents' 20-yard line, 89.3 per cent success. Bama has scored 18 touchdowns and kicked seven field goals in eight attempts. The Tide lost a fumble and the other "failure" was allowing the clock to run out against Ole Miss. Tennessee is fourth in the conference in Red Zone offense with 12 scores in 14 attempts, 85.7 per cent. The Vols have 11 touchdowns and kicked their only field goal attempt. The two failures were a lost fumble and an interception.

The Tide is first in the conference and ninth in the nation in rushing offense at 243.3 yards per game and Tennessee is fourth in the SEC and 28th nationally at 190.3. In rushing defense, UT is fourth in the conference and 26th in the nation, allowing 109.7 yards per game, while Bama is sixth in the league and 39th nationally, allowing 122.6.

Tennessee is sixth in the SEC and 56th in the nation in passing offense, 219.2 yards per game, while Alabama is at the bottom in the league and near the bottom (114th of 117 teams) in the nation, 126.3 yards per game. The Tide is first in the SEC and second in the nation in pass defense, allowing 103.0 yards per game, while the Vols are 11th in the SEC and 76th nationally, 225.7 yards per game. In the pass efficiency formulas, Tennessee is fifth in the league and 30th in the nation and Alabama ninth in the SEC and 65th in the nation on offense, while Bama is first in the SEC and in the nation and Tennessee eighth in the league and 69th nationally in defense.

In total offense, UT is fourth in the SEC and 31st in the nation, 409.5 yards per game, and Bama is eighth in the conference and 59th nationally, 369.6. In total defense, Alabama is first in the SEC and third in the nation, allowing 225.6 yards per game, while Tennessee is sixth in the conference and 44th nationally, at 278.0 yards per game.

Coaches are said to look at two statistics as critical to success: turnover ratio and third down success. In turnover margin, Alabama is second in the SEC and 17th in the nation with plus seven in seven games. The Tide has 10 fumble recoveries and seven interceptions and has lost four fumbles and six interceptions. Tennessee is tied for ninth in the SEC and 80th in the nation in turnover margin at minus three in six games. The Vols have four fumble recoveries and seven interceptions, have lost seven fumbles and had seven passes intercepted.

Tennessee is fifth in the league in third down success, 43.0 per cent, while Alabama is ninth with a 39.8 per cent success rate. The Tide is first in third down defense, allowing just a 23.6 per cent success rate, while Vols' opponents have succeeded 40.2 per cent of the time, ranking UT seventh.

Tennessee is third in the league in first downs at 139 (62 rushing, 65 passing, 12 by penalty), while the Tide is seventh with 123 (73 rushing, 44 passing, 6 by penalty). Bama is third in first downs allowed at 88 (44 rushing, 34 passing, 10 by penalty) and UT is fifth with 105 allowed (39 rushing, 56 passing, 10 by penalty).

The Vols lead the SEC in quarterback sacks with 20 for 130 yards, while Alabama is fourth with 15 for 100 yards. Bama has allowed only seven sacks (for 52 yards), third best in the league, while the Vols have given up eight sacks for 37 yards, fourth best.

UT is sixth in the SEC in being penalized, 35 flags for 287 yards, 47.8 yards per game. Bama is 10th with 43 penalties for 409 yards, 58.4 yards per game. Tennessee's opponents have been penalized the most, 50 times for 378 yards, 63.0 yards per game, and Alabama's opponents have been penalized only 31 times for 240 yards, 34.3 yards per game, 11th in the SEC.

Alabama is tops in the SEC in time of possession, averaging 33:59, while Tennessee is fifth at 31:11.

Bama ranks first in the SEC and 10th in the nation in punting at 40.4 net yards per punt on 34 punts and Tennessee is second in the league and 11th nationally at 40.3 on 25 punts. Bama is eighth in the SEC and 94th nationally in punt returns, averaging 6.4 yards per return, while the Vols are ninth in the conference and 99th in the nation at 5.5.

The Tide is first in the SEC and in the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 34.1 yards per runback, while UT is seventh in the SEC and 88th nationally at 18.6. In kickoff coverage, Alabama allows an average return of 20.6 yards, eighth in the league, and the Vols are ninth in the SEC, allowing 21.5 yards per return.

Alabama is perfect on 27 extra point kicks, while the Vols have made 20 of 21. Bama has made eight of 11 field goals, Tennessee four of nine.

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