Advantage Bama In Stats Vs. UT

It's possible that statistics don't account for much in college football. But it's interesting that since the season has gotten far enough along for stats to be meaningful, Alabama has had the better of it statistically against opponents. And the Crimson Tide is undefeated. As Ronald Reagan might say, "Here we go again."

Alabama, 7-0 overall and 4-0 in Southeastern Conference games, hosts Tennessee, 3-3 overall and 1-2 in SEC games, at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. CBS will televise the game.

Alabama is ranked first in the nation in the Associated Press poll of sportswriters and sportscasters. The Vols are not ranked.

Each week the SEC issues statistics in every area. Here's how Alabama and Tennessee stack up:

The game is decided by score. In scoring offense, Alabama is third in the league at 34.6 points per game. Tennessee's is seventh in scoring defense, allowing 19.5 points per game. The Vols are fifth in scoring, 32 points per game, while the Crimson Tide is second in scoring defense, allowing just 11.6 per game.

Bama is third in the league in rushing offense, 229.3 yards per game, going against UT's defense that ranks third against the rush, giving up 110.2 yards per game. The Vols are sixth in rushing, 183.7 yards per game, and the Tide's rush defense is first in the league, permitting just 63.3 yards.

Passing statistics are eyelash close, with the Vols leading slightly in both offense and defense. Tennessee is sixth in offense, 209 yards per game, Bama eighth, 202.7 yards per game. Defensively, the Vols are fifth, giving up 161.8, Alabama sixth, allowing 163.3.Alabama ranks ahead of Tennessee in both passing efficiency and pass defense efficiency.

In total offense, Alabama ranks fourth, 432 yards per game, Tennessee fifth, 392.7 yards per game. In total defense, Bama is first, allowing just 226.6, the Vols third, giving up 272.

Alabama's defense is helped by Bama being first in the league in interceptions with 10 (returned for 374 yards and one touchdown) and in sacks (21 for 155 yards). The Vols are 11th in interceptions with five for 14 yards and tied for 10th in sacks with 10 for 73 yards. UT has been sacked only six times, while the Tide has been sacked eight times.

Third down conversions is considered a key statistic. Alabama ranks fifth in the league in third down success (40-103 for 38.8 per cent) and third in defense on third downs, allowing 28-99 for 28.3 per cent. The Vols are eighth in third down efficiency, 30-79 for 38 per cent, and fifth in defense on third downs, 28-86 for 32.6 per cent.

Turnover margin is another key statistic. Bama ranks third in the league at plus seven. The Vols are eighth in the league, minus two. Alabama has five fumble recoveries and 10 interceptions and has lost five fumbles and been intercepted three times. Tennessee has six fumble recoveries and five interceptions and has lost four fumbles and been intercepted nine times.

Tennessee has been better than Alabama in the Red Zone, but the Tide has been better on defense in the Red Zone than the Vols. UT has scored on 23-26 trips inside the 20 (16 touchdowns and 7-7 field goals), 92 per cent, while Alabama has scored 31-36 (16 touchdowns and 15-16 field goals), 86.1 per cent. On defense, Bama has allowed 8-11 scores, 72.7 per cent, on four touchdowns and 4-4 field goals. Tennessee has allowed 18-20 scores, 90 per cent, on seven touchdowns and 11-12 field goals.

Tennessee is the league's least penalized team, 31.6 yards per game, and Alabama is seventh, 59 yards.

Alabama leads the league in time of possession, 33:17. Tennessee is sixth, 30:11.

Under the heading of Big Surprise: Alabama is 10th in the SEC in kickoff coverage. That is not the surprise. The surprise is that Bama is better than UT. Tennessee is the SEC's worst team on kickoff coverage.

In individual statistics, Bama's Mark Ingram has taken over as the league's leading rusher after his 246-yard performance against South Carolina. He averages 129.3 yards per game. He also leads the league in touchdowns with 11. Leigh Tiffin is the SEC's best in scoring, 10.3 points per game (with Ingram second at 9.4). Javier Arenas hasn't had many punt return opportunities lately, including none last week when he didn't play, but still leads the league at 16.9 yards per return.

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