JOE BIDDLE: Tide toys with Vols

Tennessee Alabama Football_453846

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones encourages his players as they run off the field during the first half an NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The third Saturday in October belonged to No. 1 ranked Alabama Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

Rivalry? What rivalry?

The final score was a stinging 45-7, Crimson Tide. It marked the 11th straight loss by the Vols in the series.

The Vols’ offense failed to score a touchdown.

Tennessee’s lone score was courtesy of Daniel Bitula, a sophomore linebacker who played his high school football for Jeff Brothers at Nashville Christian. Bitula picked off a rare Alabama mistake and took it 97 yards to the house in the third quarter. It was as close as the Vols were going to come at 28-7.

It was the fourth longest TD interception in Tennessee history. That was the only solace the Vols could find. His return was marred by teammate Rashaan Gaulden, who after giving Bitula an escort down the field, ran into the end zone and gave the Alabama fans in the stands a double middle finger salute. It was 28-7 at the time.

Oh, the Vols played hard. They never gave up. But there were too many mistakes, too many penalties (9 for 81 yards), too many puny punts. There were too many you name them.

There were too few yards by the Vols offense – 108 yards for the game to be precise. Alabama rolled up 604 yards in the game. The Vols had one possession in the third period. For the game they averaged 1.8 yards per carry.

It was 21-0 at halftime, three touchdowns via running the rock. It wasn’t enough for Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.

An Alabama fan raised a homemade sign in the CBS televised game.




No one else can beat them, at least this far in the schedule.

“We played more like Alabama in the second half,’’ said Saban.

Saban might have tapped the brakes more if he wants to sell a lot of cars to Vols fans at his Mercedes-Benz dealership in Nashville.

I don’t think the lopsided score will be Vols Coach Butch Jones’ Waterloo. He was already walking the Green Mile. I don’t think it will be finalized publicly until the season is over and they will likely give him a choice to resign or get fired.Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at

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