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No. 11 Alabama hosts 17th-ranked Tennessee with both still chasing division titles

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Arkansas, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
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Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Arkansas, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

No. 17 Tennessee (5-1, 2-1 SEC) at No. 11 Alabama (6-1, 4-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS).

Line: Alabama by 8 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Alabama leads 59-39-7.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Alabama sits atop the Southeastern Conference West as the division’s only undefeated team in league play. The Crimson Tide had a 15-game streak in this rivalry snapped with a 52-49 loss in Knoxville. Tennessee controls its own destiny in the SEC East if the Volunteers can win out, but the Volunteers are starting a stretch with three SEC road games over the next month before they host top-ranked Georgia on Nov. 18.

KEY MATCHUP

Alabama’s run defense against Tennessee’s rushing offense. The Crimson Tide rank 18th nationally giving up just 104.2 yards rushing per game, two spots ahead of Tennessee’s run defense. The Volunteers lead the SEC and rank sixth nationally averaging 231.3 yards rushing using a trio of running backs led by Jaylen Wright. They just ran for 232 yards in last week’s win over Texas A&M, which featured the SEC’s stingiest run defense giving up only 84 yards rushing.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tennessee: QB Joe Milton III. He is coming off a 100-yard passing performance in the Vols’ 20-13 win over Texas A&M, the lowest yardage for a quarterback coached by Josh Heupel since 2016 when the Tennessee coach was Missouri’s coordinator and Drew Lock threw for 98 yards for Missouri. Milton is averaging 210.7 yards passing with 10 touchdown passes and four interceptions.

Alabama: QB Jalen Milroe. Milroe's biggest success has come with his downfield throws and he's mostly avoided costly mistakes since a loss to No. 8 Texas. But he also completed only 10 passes against Arkansas, even if they went for 238 yards and two touchdowns.

FACTS & FIGURES

This will be the 21st game between these rivals with both teams ranked in a rivalry called the Third Saturday in October since 1939. ... Tennessee is looking for consecutive winsin the series for the first time since 2003 and 2004. The Vols last won in Tuscaloosa in 2003 in a game that went five OTs. ... Tennessee ranks third in the SEC and 18th nationally allowing 17 points per game. The Volunteers have allowed a league-low 11 TDs, including two over the last seven quarters. ... This game features two of the SEC’s sack leaders led by Alabama LB Dallas Turner (seven) and Tennessee DL James Pearce Jr. (six). ... Tennessee is averaging four sacks per game, second in the SEC and third nationally with at least one sack in 10 straight games.

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