[title_box title=”Five biggest moments in Tennessee-Alabama series”]
A border dispute, a conference clash, the Third Saturday in October. The Tennessee-Alabama rivalry is one of the premier and most storied rivalries in all of college football history. Predating the Southeastern Conference by 32 years, this rivalry began in 1901, meaning these two teams have been fighting for football supremacy nearly as long as the programs themselves have existed. With the 98th meeting between the teams taking place on Saturday, let’s take a look at the top five moments in this series history.
5. 2009: Tennessee vs. Alabama in Tuscaloosa – Two blocked field goals in one quarter. I can already feel the confusion and heartache creeping back, as I’m sure every Vols fan can. Early in the fourth quarter, Alabama lead 12-3 and had already blocked one Daniel Lincoln field goal attempt. At this point, any comeback hopes the Vols had were quickly fading away. However, with the game coming closer to its conclusion, Jonathan Crompton led an improbable comeback with a touchdown pass with just over a minute left to bring the score to 12-10. The Vols then recovered an onside kick and were in business. Tennessee had a real shot at leaving Tuscaloosa with a victory. Terrance “Mount” Cody had other ideas. With Lincoln poised to kick the game winning field goal, Cody broke through the line and blocked the kick for the second time in the quarter, ending the game.
4. 1995: Tennessee vs. Alabama in Birmingham – Can one really claim to be a true Vols fan without mentioning Peyton Manning at least once on this list? Going into the game, both teams were ranked in the top 15 in the country and Tennessee had lost nine straight to the Crimson Tide. Just 11 seconds in, Manning and the Volunteers proved that they were tired of losing. On the first offensive play of the game, Manning connected with receiver Joey Kent for a touchdown. This would set the precedent for the rest of the contest, as Tennessee went on to handle the Tide, 41-14. This marked the beginning of a seven-game win streak for Tennessee in the series.
3. 1914: Tennessee vs. Alabama in Knoxville – This game holds a special significance in this storied rivalry, as it was the first time Tennessee defeated Alabama at home. The history between the two schools was still fairly scarce at this point in time, as the teams had only been rivals for 13 years. The Volunteer victory marked a major shift in the tide of the series (no pun intended) as Tennessee had gone 1-10 in its first 11 games against Alabama. The Vols would go on to complete their first undefeated season, finishing 9-0 after the spark from the Alabama win.
2. 1939: Tennessee vs. Alabama in Knoxville – General Neyland was once again at the helm as head coach and the Vols were in the midst of one of the most dominant and impressive stretches of play in NCAA history. Coming off an undefeated season in which they earned their first national championship, the Volunteers followed that amazing season with an even more dominant, and awe-inspiring one. The Crimson Tide came into town and were a legitimate threat to not only defeat Tennessee, but also to simply score points. As fate would have it, however, the Vols were not be bested as they ran away with a 21-0 victory. Tennessee finished the regular season undefeated for the second consecutive year, while also holding all of their opponents scoreless. It finished an entire football season without ever conceding a single point. That statistic is other-worldly, and it was the last time an NCAA team accomplished that feat.
1. 1982: Tennessee vs. Alabama in Knoxville – Ah, at last we have the No. 1 moment in the rivalry known as the Third Saturday in October. Some might claim that there is some level of bias in determining the all-time best moment in a series, but it would be difficult to find a more incredibly emotional moment in the rivalry. Alabama had won 11 straight against the Vols going into the ’82 game, which is the longest winning streak for either team in the series. The Volunteers came from behind to take a 35-28 lead, and with time dwindling in the fourth quarter, Mike Terry intercepted a pass in the end zone to ensure a Tennessee win. The streak had finally been silenced and the demons had finally been exercised. Thousands of faithful Vols in attendance rushed the field and tore down the goal posts, happily parading them around in triumph. The players hoisted then-head coach Johnny Majors onto their shoulders and carried him off the field. Tennessee had once again reigned supreme over the Crimson Tide.
Featured image by Ben Ozburn
Edited by Cody McClure