The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry is always heated, with plenty of name-calling, rock-painting and trash-talking, but it’s been fairly one-sided for the past six years. Actually, Tennessee has had about as much success as Nick Saban finding a hair out of place (hair movement is a sign of weakness).
With the proposed changes in Southeastern Conference scheduling, and a bigger push for competitive balance, this game needs to be competitive or Tennessee could be replaced by a team that Alabama won’t automatically beat by 25 every year.
Unlike its most recent attempts at football, Tennessee has shown signs of life this year. They have nothing major to play for this year—other than a potential appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl—but the Volunteers can be very satisfied with spoiling their archrival’s chance at a third consecutive national title. With their new coach and new positive outlook in tow, the Vols pushed Georgia to overtime, injured Connor Shaw and beat South Carolina, and need to have a good showing against Alabama to solidify this run of decency.
“We need to start winning these games,” Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said. “Our players understand the challenge ahead and we have a tremendous amount of respect for what they have done, but it is a rivalry game and we’re looking forward to Saturday.”