For the first time in nearly a decade, the anticipation surrounding the Third Saturday In October has reached an all-time as the undefeated Tennessee Volunteers play host to Coach Saban and the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has won fifteen straight over Tennessee, but for the first time in over a decade, Tennessee has a legitimate chance at sending Alabama home from Rocky Top with a loss. Not many people associated with either program could have ever imagined this game regaining the excitement that this Saturday will hold. College Gameday and SEC Nation will be on site all weekend, providing Southeastern Conference fans with an experience unique to Rocky Top.
If you follow college football, the names of Alabama and Coach Saban send chills down the spine of rivals across the country. People know and appreciate the history that Alabama Football brings to the table. Paul Bear Bryant built Alabama and, for that matter, Southeastern Conference Football into the monster it is today. Coach Nick Saban came into the program and took the Alabama Football program to heights that many thoughts were to be impossible by mortal man. Coach Saban, in many ways, is the torch that carries the fire of SEC Football into the future.
However, high on Rocky Top, Josh Heupel, who, in his two years at the helm as Head Coach at the University Of Tennessee, has completely changed the perception of Tennessee Football. Coming into his tenure at Knoxville, Tennessee expected things to return to how they used to be but not this quick. Heupel came to Tennessee, and year two has brought an unbelievable amount of swagger back to those on Rocky Top. A win on Saturday over Alabama and Volunteer fans could have the pathway to winning the SEC and even the National Championship.
You can hate the facts, but college football is better when the Crimson Tide and Volunteers line up for battle in October. Southeastern Conference has longed for the day for the heated rivalry between the Volunteers and Crimson Tide to have meaning again. Tennessee has the pieces to defeat Alabama on Saturday; they’ll have to figure out a way to break the fifteen-year drought to earn a program-defining win over Alabama.
Even in a loss on Saturday against Alabama, it is hard to argue the facts at hand that Josh Heupel has turned Tennessee Football into the program that General Robert Neyland once worked so hard to build. Saturday’s game between Alabama and Tennessee will go down as one of the biggest games in the history of Tennessee Football. Tennessee embraces the moment as they understand to reach the mountaintop, you first have to slay the giants that guard it.
All of that goes to the test on Saturday afternoon, as the words of the late great John Ward echo throughout the state of Tennessee, “It’s football time in Tennessee.” Embrace the moment, Volunteer Nation; these moments have been few and far between for the Tennessee Football program.