No. 1 Alabama crushes Tennessee for 11th straight series victory

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It took a little while for Alabama to flex its muscles against Tennessee, but the Crimson Tide eventually showed why they are the No. 1 team in the nation.

Alabama recorded nearly 500 more yards than the Volunteers and extended its winning streak over Tennessee to 11 with a 45-7 victory on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Crimson Tide's stingy defense allowed only 108 total yards and held redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, making his second career start, to 44 yards on 9-of-16 passing. He was intercepted once as Alabama held Tennessee's offense scoreless.

The Crimson Tide's balanced offense rolled to 604 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground.

"All in all, this was a great team victory," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We had a lot of guys contribute out there, even on special teams, even though we made an error on special teams today which could've given them a score. (We had) a great goal-line stand in order to keep it out of the end zone. There were lots of positive things to build on going into the bye week."

Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) led 21-0 at halftime and didn't waste time adding to its lead to open the second half. Quarterback Jalen Hurts led the Crimson Tide down the field and capped a eight-play, 76-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Irv Smith. Jr. to make it 28-0. It was the first career touchdown for Smith.

"I was really pleased with the way our team came out and played in the second half," Saban said. "I thought we were more physical, we had better energy, and we played faster on offense. Defense did a pretty good job all day, especially on third down getting off field so they couldn't sustain drives."

Tennessee's first touchdown in three games came by way of a 97-yard interception return by linebacker Daniel Bituli. Bituli intercepted a pass from Alabama backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, a freshman, and outran the Crimson Tide's offense into the end zone to pull the Volunteers (3-4, 0-4) within 28-7.

Tagovailoa got some redemption, though, when he broke free up the middle for a 23-yard touchdown run, juking defenders on his way to the end zone to make it 38-7 early in the fourth quarter.

Hurts completed 13 of 21 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown. Tagovailoa was 9 of 12 for 134 yards with a touchdown. He connected with Henry Ruggs III for a 60-yard touchdown to make it 45-7 late in the fourth quarter.

Running back Damien Harris led the ground attack with 13 carries for 72 yards and a score. Bo Scarbrough scored twice on nine carries.

"The games are always physical," Tennessee defensive lineman Kendal Vickers said. "You expect that going into games like this. You just have to prepare your mind and your body for 60 minutes. They are a great team and they showed it today so hats off to them."

Alabama's fourth possession of the game was a wacky one. Hurts found Smith for a big gain that looked like a touchdown before Smith fumbled out of the back of the end zone. However, the turnover was negated because of a personal foul call penalty on Tennessee that gave Alabama the ball at the 1-yard line.

After the teams exchanged penalties, Alabama finally punched it in with a 1-yard score from Scarbrough to make it 14-0.

"First of all, when you play a team like Alabama, every mistake you make is magnified," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "I think that was evidenced in the first half."

NOTES: Alabama RB Damien Harris has 10 rushing touchdowns this season. ... Alabama DL Da'Shawn Hand (MCL) was held out for the third straight game. Hand was on the sideline in street clothes. ... Alabama is off next Saturday. The Crimson Tide host LSU on Nov. 4. ... Tennessee plays at Kentucky next Saturday. ... Tennessee RB John Kelly rushed 12 times for a team-high 63 yards.

Updated October 21, 2017

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