25 October 2008
Alabama rode dominant defense and a methodical offense to a 29-9 victory over rival Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee Saturday night. Roy Upchurch and Glen Coffee combined for 164 rushing yards, and freshman sensation Julio Jones added his first 100-yard receiving game for the win.
Alabama's offense had one of its few slow first quarters of the season, at least scoring-wise, and Javier Arenas fumbled an early punt return inside Alabama's 5-yard line to keep the game close through the first half. But the game never really seemed in doubt, as Tennessee could get little offensive production, scoring only three first-half points despite the Arenas fumble and a partially-blocked P.J. Fitzgerald punt that set the Vols up at the Bama 32.
After Alabama's opening drive stalled near the Tennessee 20, leading to a 39-yard Leigh Tiffin field goal, the Tide stopped Tennessee again, leading to the Arenas fumble after a long Britton Colquitt punt. But a Tennessee formation penalty and a stiff Alabama defensive stand culminating in a Rashad Johnson sack held the Vols to a tying field goal.
Tiffin added another field goal later in the quarter, this one from 41 yards. Glen Coffee capped a 66-yard drive, highlighted by Julio Jones' 19- and 35-yard pass receptions, with a well-blocked three-yard touchdown run with 2:41 remaining in the half to sent Alabama to the locker room with a 13-3 lead.
Whatever excitement the first half existed for the Vols faithful disappeared early in the latter stanza, as the orange-clad home team seemed to do little more in the third quarter than wait for an expected Alabama collapse that never occurred. Instead, Bama controlled the ball and the game, as another Tiffin field goal and short TD runs by Roy Upchurch and John Parker Wilson spotted the Tide to a 29-3 lead with 9:43 left in the fourth quarter.
Alabama racked up 366 yards and 23 first downs for the game, and had only five yards of penalties for the game before two late pass interference penalties set Tennessee up for a garbage-time score that made the final count 29-9. The Vols added 38 of their 178 total yards and 4 of their 10 total first downs during that drive.
John Parker Wilson hit 17 of 24 passes for 188 yards and was not intercepted - in fact, Arenas' fumble was the only turnover of the night by either team - and the visitors outgained the home team on the ground by a crushing 178-36 margin. Alabama, which has been notably unproductive in the second half of its prior three games, gave Tennessee nothing in the second half of this game but the meaningless late-game touchdown drive and controlled the ball for 21:38 in the game's second stanza.