KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Amari Cooper caught nine passes for a school-record 224 yards and scored two touchdowns to help No. 4 Alabama beat Tennessee 34-20 Saturday night for its eighth consecutive victory in the series.
This game marked a return to Neyland Stadium for Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who coached Tennessee in 2009 and angered Volunteers fans by leaving for Southern California after only one season. Kiffin’s offense produced touchdowns on four of its first five series — including Cooper’s 80-yard touchdown catch on Alabama’s first play from scrimmage — as the Crimson Tide (7-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) raced to a 27-0 lead.
Tennessee (3-5, 0-4) got back into the game thanks to quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who provided a spark after entering the game on Tennessee’s third possession. Dobbs helped the Vols cut the lead to 27-17 in the third quarter before Alabama’s Derrick Henry stopped Tennessee’s momentum with a 28-yard touchdown run.
Cooper’s 224 yards receiving broke the school record set by Julio Jones, who had 221 yards receiving in a 41-10 victory over Tennessee in 2010. By the end of the first quarter, Cooper had five catches for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
On Alabama’s first play, Cooper caught a short pass from Blake Sims, ran to his right and raced 80 yards down the Tide sideline.
Cooper reached the end zone again on Alabama’s second series with a 41-yard reception down the left sideline. He added a 30-yard catch on Alabama’s third series to set up T.J. Yeldon’s 1-yard touchdown run. Bama gained 249 yards and scored three touchdowns on its first three possessions.
Tennessee didn’t go away thanks to its surprisingly potent offense.
The Vols entered the night having failed to score a touchdown in their last two SEC games, and they had to face Alabama without three injured starters: Worley, left guard Marcus Jackson and right tackle Coleman Thomas. But the Vols moved the ball effectively behind Dobbs, who threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 75 yards on 19 carries.
Nathan Peterman actually opened the game as Tennessee’s quarterback, but Dobbs came on midway through the first quarter and stayed the rest of the way.
Tennessee scored 10 points in the final 7:03 of the first half to cut Alabama’s lead to 27-10. Dobbs threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Josh Malone and got the Vols into range for Aaron Medley’s 27-yard field goal on the final play of the half. After Dobbs capped Tennessee’s first drive of the second half with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Von Pearson, a 27-point deficit was all the way down to 10.
But that’s as close as Tennessee would get.