TUSCALOOSA (WATE) – Alabama ran away with what appeared to be the inevitable on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
In the 100th meeting between the two teams, the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide used three rushing touchdowns in the first half in a 45-7 win over Tennessee.
Alabama entered the game a 36.5 point favorite, the largest spread in the storied rivalry. The largest margin of victory remains in 2016, when Alabama rolled past the Vols 49-10 at Neyland Stadium.
The Crimson Tide’s first two touchdowns came on 4th and goal. Each play ended with Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough leaping over the pile into the end zone. The first scoring drive lasted 12 plays before the second was capped off on the 15th play.
Alabama needed only six plays to add to it, ending with an 11 yard touchdown run for Damien Harris.
Leading 21-0 at halftime, the Crimson Tide added 10 more points in the third quarter. Jalen Hurts connected with a wide-open Irv Smith Jr. for a 14 yard touchdown to put Alabama up 28-0.
Highly-touted Alabama freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa replaced Hurts in the third quarter. His first drive ended with a Tennessee touchdown. Facing third and goal, Tagovailoa was intercepted by Daniel Bituli, who returned it 97 yards into the end zone. It was Tennessee’s first touchdown in 28 days, dating back to the second quarter against UMass on Sept. 23. Rashaan Golden quickly stole the spotlight from Bituli after putting both of his middle fingers up to the Alabama student section. Gaulden was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Tagovailoa would eventually find the end zone himself, rushing 23 yards to give Alabama a 38-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
Following a fumbled punt return by Alabama, the Vols made their first trip into the red zone. John Kelly was initially given a touchdown on second and goal but after review, the touchdown was overturned. Jarrett Guarantano was intercepted soon after.
The loss puts the Vols at 3-4 (0-4 SEC) with a trip to Kentucky coming up on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.