College football games week 7: Tennessee aims to exorcise past demons with monumental victory over Alabama

Jeremy Pruitt doesn’t want to talk about him this week, but he misses his boys. It’s been 21 months since the former Tennessee coach was fired amid charges of bringing recruits to Knoxville, Tennessee during COVID-19 recruiting deadlines. However, his presence – somehow – hovers over Saturday’s showdown among Volunteers No. 6 and n. 3 of Alabama.

Only a handful of Vols players are the ones he didn’t put on the schedule, Pruitt noted.

This is less of an issue than the Tennessee allegation notice that fell in July. In it, Pruitt is assumed to have overseen the program during a period in which there were 18 Level I violations.

Most damning is the allegation that Pruitt and his wife “knowingly organized” illegal visits and recruiting incentives. Pruitt denied these claims to CBS Sports but did not go into detail.

The investigation also creates a disjunction heading to the SEC over CBS’s game of the week. This magical season may not have been possible without Pruitt. In addition to bringing players like quarterback Heisman Trophy contender Hendon Hooker and first wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, sources say Pruitt encouraged Tennessee players to stay at Rocky Top after his firing.

The investigation isn’t something anyone in Tennessee wants to consider this week. Alabama and Tennessee both come into play undefeated for the first time since 1989. Rocky Top may run out of cigars.

It is unknown whether Tennessee would be penalized in time to impact this season, but the allegations are so serious that a post-season ban must be on the table. (However, the lack of institutional control is not.) CBS Sports previously reported Tennessee could be a test case for how the NCAA sees innocent athletes penalize in these kinds of situations.

Pruitt will likely be ripped off on Saturday. He is an Alabama graduate who coached for the Crimson Tide, but his only head coaching job was with the Vols, where he went 16-19 in three seasons.

He left the coaching profession. The notice includes the NCAA’s belief that the infringements committee may conclude that Pruitt has violated the Manager’s Liability Policy. This rule states that a coach is responsible for overseeing his schedule. A show-cause order is possible for Pruitt. This is the scarlet letter from the NCAA that would make it unreachable for a period of years.

During the period of death from COVID-19 that lasted from March 2020 to June 2021, parents and athletes could only make unofficial visits. During that time they could not meet anyone from the athletic department. The notice of the allegations states that Tennessee personnel “consciously planned and organized visits” of some recruits.

Hooker moved from Virginia Tech in January 2021. Just 19 days later, Pruitt was fired. The two have never met in person, Pruitt said. The recruitment was carried out by telephone and on zoom.

“When I got to Tennessee, I got back into the flow of things,” Hooker told CBS Sports. “I was able to have full access to the movie theater. I was in the facility eight hours a day watching the movie. Even though there was no other player in there, I was trying to figure out what was going on. Not only am I. new, it’s a new system, I want to show the coaches that I’m fully involved. “

Ample credit should go to current manager Josh Heupel, who is 12-6 with that roster. The Vols are 5-0 for the first time since 2016 and have quickly identified their identity under Heupel’s surveillance. Neyland Stadium will be packed for one of Tennessee’s biggest games of recent years.

But somewhere back home in Alabama, Pruitt will be looking with split loyalties but knowing one thing about Saturday.

“It’s about these players,” he said.

Let’s be clear: Alabama probably can’t win in Tennessee without star QB and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. This was evident last week when backup Jalen Milroe overturned it three times – in a home game – keeping Texas A&M so close that the race progressed to the final game. As of Wednesday, coach Nick Saban said his quarterback was on “court count” and that he would progress into free practice on Thursday. Basically, not much has changed since Young was injured on Oct. 1 in Arkansas.

We tried to give to general chronology on recovering from his shoulder sprain last week, but that didn’t explain Saban’s bad direction. Young was announced as a starter minutes before last week’s Texas A&M game, only to see Milroe make her first career start. Expect a similar approach this week. We won’t know who will start until Alabama’s first offensive series.

Armageddon of the college football playoffs

We might as well publish it now. If Tennessee beat Alabama, there is a SEC three-team scenario in the College Football Playoff. Here’s how it works: Alabama takes Young’s return and wins, including defeating Georgia’s No. 1 in the SEC championship game. Tennessee tops their schedule with their only defeat coming November 5 in Georgia.

This most likely leaves two in CFP with Alabama and Georgia both at 12-1. It would be difficult to rule out the Vols 11-1, finishing second in the SEC East, with a win over Bama. This is the best thing ever (for some) or an indication (for others) that the 12-team playoffs can’t get here fast enough.

Magic of rice-eccles

Lincoln Riley can’t know what he’s getting himself into. He can not. Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium is one of the loudest venues in the country. The game that kicks off in prime time will add to the “preparations” in the hatches. This is a big reason why the Utah number 20 has won his last 11 home games and 22 of his last 23. Riley is the first USC manager to win his first six school games since 1951. Turnover will likely dominate. the night. Between them, the two schools have 29 wiretaps. No. 7 USC leads the country in the revenue margin.

This should be USC’s toughest game on the road to a possible playoff spot. Get through this and an unbeaten regular season looks doable. A win in Utah suddenly gives the Utes the tiebreaker over the Trojans in the single division Pac-12.

Battle for the Big Ten East

Sorry to cross the streams here, but Penn State # 10 needs Micah Parsons to beat Michigan # 5. Parsons isn’t eligible, of course, but the Nittany Lions linebacker brought his maniacal tackling skills to the Cowboys. Will Penn State Bring That Mindset To Michigan?

It’s worth asking for a program that calls itself Linebacker U. Mid-season, Penn State doesn’t have a defender in the top 50 tackling in the Big Ten. The closest linebacker to that list is Abdul Carter (18 tackles, two for losses, two broken passages and a forced fumble). He also wears the no. 11, like Parsons.

Michigan is the only team other than Alabama to rank in the top 10 in attack and defense. Penn State have caused 11 turnovers in their last three games. For the first time in 25 years, the teams will both meet in the top 10. The winner has the honor of remaining in the Big East race, with Ohio State still to be chosen for both.

New Big 12 preview

If you’re wondering who the alpha dog might be in the reconfigured Big 12, check out Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday. The game between Oklahoma State # 8 and TCU # 13 could be a preview of the Big 12 ruling class. It is, at this point, championship game of the year. Mike Gundy is the best coach with the best schedule with the Texas and Oklahoma loss. TCU ranks third nationwide by scoring after falling behind for the full 16 and a half minutes in their first five games. Pokes are fourth in scoring having won every game in double figures (just like Ohio State!). Former defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has left enough behind that the Cowboys lead the country in lost tackles. There were 14 last week against Texas Tech.

Speaking of the Big 12, it’s worth asking whether Oklahoma is the worst team in the league. The case can be presented as Kansas heads to Norman, Oklahoma, after Texas’ shocking closure – the worst whitewash in program history – the Sooners (3-3) are taking stock of the damage. The defense turned out to be OU’s worst in years. The Sooners are the last to die in the league allowing for 450 yards per game. That’s 178 yards more than the 2009 unit who gave up 272 yards per game in a five-defeat season. This also marks the last time the Sooners were 3-3. “We are not coping very well at the moment if anyone hasn’t noticed,” coach Brent Venables said this week.

But if you want to learn more about what happened this year, consider the transfer portal. Quarterback Caleb Williams walked in and went to USC. This changed everything. In recent years, OU could at least beat opponents. Not anymore. The average of 30.8 points per game is the lowest since 2006. Add to that, being Venables a first-year manager, there is still a lot to understand. The sudden recession alludes to the forgettable era of John Blake. The last coach before Bob Stoops, Blake set the worst three-year record in OU history, 12-22.

Bryan Harsin’s long goodbye

Say what you want about Coach Auburn’s situation, it’s always troubling to see a good man go through this kind of ordeal. With five schools already on the market, it is logical to assume that Auburn will jump on the coaches’ carousel after an alleged defeat to Ole Miss. This is your 2 minute warning. A two-day layoff would mark the fifth Sunday in the past six at least one Power Five coach has been let go.

If transfers can get waived faster than Tennessee’s pace, why does # 25 James Madison (at Georgia Southern) have to wait two years to be eligible for post-season? Who will hurt? The two-year probationary period for FCS switching to FBS is an outdated rule. Allowing the Dukes to qualify for bowling won’t cause an FCS heart race. Even if it does, who cares? The Power Five remain in a process of scrutiny over everything from recruiting to revenue to governance of the NCAA. The school recently said it will appeal to be eligible for boules next season. Allowing the Dukes to get in early would be a great way to celebrate the game.

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