In this entry, we update our summary of offensive production by Bama’s opponents, adding information from the Tide’s game on 10/24 versus the Tennessee Volunteers. For reasons known only to athletic department schedulers and dayologists (calendar experts), the “Third Saturday in October” fell on the fourth Thursday this year. Unfortunately for Big Orange fans yearning to belt out a victorious “Rocky Top” in Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Saban-era dominance (9-0) over the Vols continued, albeit with some tense moments.
Also, for those of you at the intersection of “interested in marching band formations” and “curious about famous mathematical forms,” – and we know you’re out there – the Volunteers band gave us a treat at halftime. Surely you all appreciated the flat disk with evenly-radiating arms that moved across the field: a fine rendition of a logarithmic spiral if there ever was one. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logarithmic_spiral)
Season record to date
|9/12||Middle Tenn||Conference USA||NR||37-10||2-0||2|
|9/19||Ole Miss||SEC – West||15||37-43 (L)||2-1; 0-1 SEC||2|
|9/26||UL – Monroe||Sun Belt||NR||34-0||3-1||12|
|10/3||Georgia||SEC – East||8||38-10||4-1; 1-1 SEC||13|
|10/10||Arkansas||SEC – West||NR||27-14||5-1; 2-1 SEC||8|
|10/17||Texas A&M||SEC – West||9||41-23||6-1; 3-1 SEC||10|
10/24 Tennessee SEC – West NR 19-14 7-1; 4-1 SEC 8
Going into the game, Bama, at 8, was the top-ranked one-loss team in the AP Poll. There were two major upsets over the weekend. Florida State, which was ranked 9, lost to unranked Georgia Tech (22-16) and – more importantly – Utah, undefeated at 3, lost to USC (that’s the other USC… the private university located in Los Angeles), 42 – 24. So look for Bama to move up a bit in the AP poll.
Ole Miss, the only team to win against the Tide this season, defeated Texas A&M, 23 – 3 in Oxford. For strength of schedule considerations, this is probably a wash: Rebels win (good), but Aggies lose (bad).
Now the schedule sets up very nicely for the Tide. The team has a bye week, then faces off against LSU in a huge game to be played in Tuscaloosa. (Huge game? Bama vs. LSU… is there any other kind?) Additional time for preparation, rest and recuperation, and home cookin’ – Dreamland, anyone? – before a showdown with the Bayou Tigers in Bryant-Denny. Big-time college football, SEC West style, at its most glorious… it’s hard to beat that.
The first College Football Rankings come out November 3. One week later, those rankings will reflect the outcome of the Bama/LSU game and give us our first indication of which SEC team could make the final four.
Rushing against Bama
|UL – Monroe||31||9||0.3||1||0||0|
Tennessee 39 132 3.4 11 1 0
The Volunteers netted the most rushing yards, 132, since the Georgia Bulldogs amassed 192 three weeks ago. Rushing efficiency was also good: 3.4 net yards/rush was second only to (you guessed it) Georgia, 5.1 net yards/rush. By comparison, Bama averaged 2.8 net yards/rush. The Vols put one rushing TD on the scoreboard, ending a two-game stretch when the Tide D pitched shutouts.
Setting aside Middle Tennessee and UL-Monroe, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Texas A&M have zero rushing TDs. Ole Miss has two, while Georgia and Tennessee have scored two combined.
Bama’s run defense certainly remains the rock on which its defense is founded. To its credit, the Big Orange rushing game gave a good account of itself, being efficient and giving up no fumbles.
Passing against Bama
|UL – Monroe||43||20||47||83||4.2||5||0||2|
Tennessee 22 13 59 171 13.2 11 1 0
If anyone has the sneaking suspicion that “Less is More” appeared in bold letters on the passing game pages of the Vols’s game plan, don’t feel alone. Whatever the strategic motivation, Tennessee passed little, but generated considerable production.
Tennessee had the fewest passing attempts of the season, 22, but completed 13 for a 59% rate. That completion rate is second highest to Wisconsin’s 67%. But now look at the results: Wisconsin averaged 8.8 net yards/completion, while Tennessee reached 13.2 net yards, topped only by Ole Miss at 18.9 net yards. Wisconsin got 12 first downs from 228 net yards; the Volunteers realized 11 first downs on 171.
Texas A&M had as many completions as Tennessee had attempts, but to little avail. Only two more first downs, the same number of passing TDs, and four more INTs (three of which were of the dreaded pick-six variety).
The run/pass balance was pretty good: 39 rushes and 22 passes for a 64/36 split percentage-wise. The Volunteers production of 3.4 net yards/rush made that possible. Tennessee, unlike other opponents, was not forced into a one-dimensional offensive effort.
Offensive efficiency of opponents
|Opponent||Yards||Plays||Play||3rd Downs||4th Downs||Downs||Trips : TDs : FGs||Off TO|
|Wisconsin||268||60||4.5||6 – 14||0 – 0||14||4 : 2 : 1||0|
|Middle TN||275||74||3.7||6 – 19||1 – 1||14||3 : 1 : 1||14|
|Ole Miss||433||65||6.7||4 – 14||1 – 2||14||4: 2 : 2||0|
|UL – Monroe||92||74||1.2||3 – 20||1 – 4||6||0: 0 : 0||7|
|Georgia||299||69||4.3||3 – 17||0 – 0||11||1 : 0 : 1||7|
|Arkansas||220||57||3.9||5 – 16||0 – 1||9||1 : 1 : 0||3|
|Texas &M||316||70||4.5||7 – 18||0 – 1||15||2 : 1 : 1||24|
Tennessee 303 61 5.0 7 – 13 0 – 1 20 3 : 2 : 0 0
Tennessee achieved the best third-down conversion rate against Bama so far this season (54%). The Tide’s 5/12 effort on third downs comes out to 45%. The run/pass balance noted above produced 20 first downs. The Volunteers gave up 0 points on turnovers, but failed to convert on three field goals of 43, 51 and 51 yards. Not a “chip shot” among them, for sure.
Are there lessons to be gleaned? One, Bama won a game against an always-motivated SEC rival despite its lowest-scoring effort of the season. Kudos go to the defense, once again. Two, Tennessee was able to achieve balance and not abandon the run game. A bit more productivity – to go along with noted efficiency – and the Vols band might have enjoyed blasting a celebratory “Ricky Top” at max volume.