Thursday, October 13, 2016

Us vs Y’all: The Third Saturday in October

imageHere we go again. This time, the calendar is right.

Alabama plays Tennessee at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, 15 October 2016.

This is absolutely one of the most intense and storied rivalries in SEC and college football history. For many Alabama fans, Tennessee is the most despised rival, even over that thing we have on the last regular season game of every year. For many Tennessee fans, this rivalry’s intensity exceeds the one they have with Florida.

On the field, Tennessee has beaten Alabama 37 times. No other team on the planet can claim 37 victories against Alabama. Tennessee has 13 SEC Championships. No other school in the league is as close to Alabama’s 24.

Beginning in 1995 with Peyton Manning as a sophomore in Knoxville, Tennessee ran off a streak of seven straight victories. No team in the SEC has ever beaten Alabama seven straight times and it may not ever happen again. Tennessee rightfully claims six National Championships. No other team in the SEC is as close as Alabama’s 15.

These are the two marquee programs of SEC Football lore. These are the two flagships. Florida may have more fans and more TV viewers. Georgia, too. But no two programs have done more on the field than Alabama and Tennessee. Nobody. No two programs can claim head coaching legends like Paul W. Bryant and General Robert Neyland. It’s 11 decades of college football at it’s finest and most intense.

One of my earliest football memories was listening to the 1972 game on the patio with my father. Bama was down 10-3 late in the fourth quarter due to a very stout Tennessee defense. But the Tide somehow managed to score two touchdowns in under two minutes and pulled out a 17-10 victory. Bama play-by-play announcer John Forney was nearly unintelligible as the final seconds ran off the clock, but my father’s grin, as he pulled out the Victory Cigar, was all I needed to be told—beating Tennessee is huge.

It’s the Third Saturday in October and this year the calendar is right.

It’s Us vs Y’all.

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