It won't be 6-3 this time

No one knows exactly what will happen when Tennessee and Alabama collide at 11:30 (CST) today in Tuscaloosa but this much is a virtual lock: The game won't resemble the last meeting at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The 2005 game pitted two horrendous offenses against two tremendous defenses. The attack units were so inept that day, in fact, that the teams couldn't manage a touchdown between them. The Vols mustered just 253 yards of total offense and one field goal. The Tide netted 257 yards of offense and two field goals en route to a 6-3 triumph.

Obviously, both programs have flip-flopped since then. This year the two offenses are pretty strong and the two defenses are pretty weak.

Tennessee leads the Southeastern Conference in pass offense but ranks 10th in pass defense. Bama ranks fifth in pass offense, ninth in pass defense. Tennessee is averaging 34.3 points per game but ranks dead last in scoring defense. Bama averages 30.1 points per game but ranks seventh in scoring defense. Tennessee ranks fifth in total offense but 11th in total defense. Bama ranks sixth in total offense, ninth in total defense. Tennessee is 11th in red-zone defense, Bama ninth.

Vol quarterback Erik Ainge leads the SEC in passing at 259.0 yards per game. Tide counterpart John Parker Wilson is fifth at 216.1 per game. Tennessee's Lucas Taylor leads the SEC in receiving at 103.0 yards per game, while Bama's DJ Hall is fifth at 82.7 per game.

The good news for Tennessee: The Vols' offense should score quite a few points today. The bad news: The Tide's offense should score quite a few points, as well.

"They've got talent everywhere," UT defensive coordinator John Chavis said earlier this week. "You hate to pick out one unit but their offensive line may be as good as we've played against. They're certainly strong there. Their tailbacks are really, really good and they've got two great receivers.

"They're a very, very talented offense and their quarterback is playing well. It's hard to find a weakness."

Although Tennessee limited Alabama to 6 points in 2005 and 13 points in 2006, Chavis says the Tide attack is a lot different under Nick Saban in 2007 than it was under Mike Shula the previous two years.

"They're spreading it out and throwing the ball a little more," the Vol coordinator said. "I think they feel good about that. They use a multitude of formations, motions and shifts. They've got all the bells and whistles to go along with an offense that's loaded with talent."

Chavis conceded that this year's Bama offense looks a lot like the offenses Saban fielded at LSU in the early 2000s.

"You can see him using personnel in the same way," the Vol aide said. "I'm sure their offensive coordinator (Major Applewhite) is putting his stamp on it, along with Coach Saban, but there's a lot of similarities."

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