Alabama (7-0, 4-0) @ Tennessee (4-3, 1-2)
This could possibly be the most anticipated game all week for SEC fans. The Crimson Tide already made their mark on The Rock at Tennessee, a gigantic rock that Volunteer students frequently painted, illustrating their orange pride. The explicit message did not settle very well with students or players, and that’s just the beginning of the rivalry antics.
The Vols will travel down to Tuscaloosa on Saturday to roll with the Tide. Bama leads the series with a 49-38-7 pull and has owned the turf the past six meets. This will be the 96th match-up between the two schools and completes almost 100-years of this rivalry. If walls could talk, I am sure that there would be some interesting stories to tell.
Alabama enters the match ranked no. 1 overall in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches poll. Tennessee, still remains unranked at this point in their season. However, coming off the biggest win yet under new head coach Butch Jones, the Vols will be up to the challenge.
Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley has thrown 1,119 yards with 10 touchdowns this season and six interceptions. Last game, Worley was 19 of 34 for 179 yards with zero turnovers and a TD for the board. Worley said over the past few weeks the team has learned and confidence has flourished.
“Over the course of the season, whether you have success or failure, you gain experience,” stated Worley, “and the way we have played the past few weeks…I think our confidence has grown.”
Also, a big play-maker for Tennessee last Saturday, Michael Palardy, had eight punts and averaged 44-yards per punt, and six of those smacked right inside the 20-yard line.
Jones says they must take tremendous strides and improve as a football team.
“We talk about pride and preparation, and this week we have to be extremely prepared for anything and everything,” noted Jones, “not only are you preparing your kids physically but mentally…going into a hostile environment…you’re playing against some very very skilled football players and athletes.”
On the other side of the field, the tough-competitor Bama ranks no. 4 in the nation in allowing first downs in a game. On average, the Tide only allows about 12.5 first downs per game.
Alabama doesn’t stop there. The team has not allowed a sack since the 3rd quarter of the Ole Miss game in September. This places the maroon tide at 15th nationally and third in the SEC, giving up 1.00 sacks per game. That’s determination at its finest.
Head coach Nick Saban says he thinks that his players respect the rivalry ahead.
“I really do think our players respect this rivalry and understand what it takes to be successful and what it takes for us to win this game.”
When it comes to playing time on the field, only time will tell and the great tradition will live on.
Kick-off will be at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
Here’s a look at the rest of your SEC run-down for the week:
–Mississippi State (4-3, 1-2) took its first big SEC win from Kentucky (1-6, 0-4) last night in Starkville, MS, 28-22. The Wildcats had a chance at coming back but failed to as Maxwell Smith’s pass fell incomplete, and the Bulldogs ran the clock down.
–South Carolina (5-2, 3-2) is bouncing back from a loss at Neyland Stadium to the Vols and will be traveling north to Missouri to take on the Tigers. Mizzou is currently undefeated overall and 3-0 in the SEC with wins from Florida, Georgia, and Vandy. Kick-off will be at 6 p.m. and airing on ESPN2.
-An extremely competitive game to watch out for on Saturday will be Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3) vs. Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2). The Aggies are coming off a short loss to Auburn last week but continuing their four-game-home-streak against the Commodores. Vandy will be traveling down south with a high off of its latest win over Georgia. Kick-off will be 11:21 a.m. aired on SEC TV.
–LSU (6-2, 3-2) will return home after a 3-point loss to Ole Miss last weekend to take on Furman University.(3-4), to host its Homecoming. The match will kick-off at 6 p.m. and can be ordered on PPV.
-The Auburn Tigers (6-1, 3-1) are coming home with their heads held high after a big win over Texas A&M in College Station last week. The orange-and-blue will take on Florida Atlantic (2-5) at 6:30 p.m. on FSN.
-Continuing its six-game-home-streak, Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3) will take on Idaho at 6:30 p.m., which will be televised on CSS Saturday evening.
Bye-Week’s in the SEC:
-Suffering a 0-52 loss to the no.1 ranked Crimson Tide, Arkansas (3-5, 0-4) has an open-date this week before taking on Auburn next week. The Razorbacks are in a 5-game losing streak and looking to regain that spark to take a win.
-The Gator came crawling back to Jacksonville, after 17-36 loss against undefeated Mizzou last weekend. Florida (4-3, 3-2) has an open date, as well, this week before they take on Georgia in the swamp next Satuday.
–Georgia (4-3, 3-2) has an open date this week before heading down to Gator-country next week. The Bulldogs suffered a 27-31 loss to Vandy last weekend and will need some time to recoup and regain strength for this next competitive SEC match.