Preview game notes: Alabama-Tennessee

Want to know the storylines for this week’s Alabama-Tennessee game? The preview notes released by the two schools should tell most of the important points. You’ll even find a list of Gen. Neyland’s Maxims of Football. Enjoy.

GAME 8: Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) vs. Tennessee (2-4, 0-3 SEC) Saturday, October 23, 2010 6 p.m. CT ESPN Neyland Stadium (102,455) • Knoxville, Tenn. (notes courtesy of UA and UT Media Relations)

THE GAME: Alabama returns to the road for the fourth time in the last six weeks with a trip to Neyland Stadium this Saturday and a renewal of one of the nation’s best rivalries. The seventh-ranked Crimson Tide square off with the Tennessee Volunteers for a 6 p.m. (CT) kickoff on Saturday, October 23, in Knoxville, Tenn. It will be the 93rd meeting between the two schools in a series that Alabama leads 46-38-7 (includes NCAA forfeits and vacated games). Tennessee is coming off of a bye week with a 2-4 record on the season and 0-3 mark in the SEC after a 41-14 loss to Georgia on Oct. 9 in Athens. The Volunteers are the third of six SEC teams to have a bye before playing Alabama. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with Brad Nessler on play-by-play, Todd Blackledge as the color analyst and Holly Rowe reporting from the sideline. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network with Barry Krauss on the sidelines.

HEAD COACH NICK SABAN: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his fourth season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school’s 27th head coach on January 3, 2007. Saban has compiled a 34-9 record (39-9 including five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and one national championship. Saban holds a career record of 125-51-1 (129-51-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and 10 of his 13 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is also one of two coaches (Urban Meyer, Florida) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.

RANKINGS: Alabama opened the 2010 season ranked first in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ preseason polls but checks in at No. 7 in both polls this week, a one-spot jump from last week. Tennessee is not ranked or receiving votes in either poll.

TENNESSEE SERIES: The Crimson Tide lead the series 46-38-7 over Tennessee and have won three straight in the series. UA is 20-18-1 against the Volunteers in Knoxville, including a 29-9 victory in the Crimson Tide’s last visit to Neyland Stadium in 2008. Last season in Tuscaloosa, Alabama used two blocked field goals — the second of which came as time expired — by Terrence Cody in the fourth quarter to hold off the Volunteers in Tuscaloosa, 12-10.

NEXT GAME: Alabama finally gets its turn at a bye week on the weekend of Oct. 30 before another road game at LSU — the fifth in seven games — on Saturday, November 6. The Crimson Tide lead the series 45-23-5 and have won two straight in the series. UA is 25-8-2 against LSU in Tiger Stadium, including a 27-21 overtime victory in the Crimson Tide’s last visit to Baton Rouge in 2008. Last year, Alabama got a 73-yard scoring catch from Julio Jones in the fourth quarter to seal a 24-15 win over the Tigers in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Today marks the fourth SEC game for Tennessee this year and the first at home vs. Alabama since a 29-9 loss to the Crimson Tide on Oct. 25, 2008…a last-second UT field goal attempt was blocked by Alabama in last year’s game, resulting in a 12-10 loss on Oct. 24.

Alabama owns a 47-38-7 edge in the series, including a 21-20-1 advantage in Knoxville and a 26-18-6 lead in the state of Alabama.

Alabama has won three consecutive meetings in the series, but the Vols have won five of the last seven in Knoxville since a 20-13 win in 1996…UT has scored 17 or fewer points in the last six meetings.

Since 1995, Tennessee has a 10-5 edge in the series. UT won seven in a row from 1995-2001, while Alabama has won five of eight since 2002.

A win for the Vols would allow the team to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2008 (Oct. 25-Nov. 1-Nov. 8)…the Vols have held Alabama to under 20 points in eight of the last 10 meetings at Neyland Stadium since 1990.

The Proverbial, Perpetual Yardstick
One of the greatest coaches in the history of the game of football, Gen. Robert Reese Neyland is still, and will most likely always be, the yardstick by which all Tennessee football coaches are measured. For 21 years, he led the Big Orange to win after win and championship after championship.

His 173 wins, seven conference titles and four national championships set the bar at one of the nation’s finest football institutions.

According to UT legend Gus Manning, no one summed up Neyland and his coaching ability better than Wallace Wade:
“He could take his and beat yours or take yours and beat his.” — Wallace Wade, Alabama and Duke head coach and Neyland rival.

Gen. Neyland’s Maxims of Football
1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.

2.Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way – SCORE.

3. If at first the game or the breaks go against you, don’t let up — put on more steam.

4.Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead and our ball game.

5.Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle — for this is the WINNING EDGE.

6.Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.

7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.

THE ALABAMA-TENNESSEE SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with Tennessee, 46-38-7 (actual 47-37-8), in a series that dates back to the 1901 season. The Crimson Tide has won the last three meetings and seeks its fourth straight series win for the first time since a seven-game winning streak from 1986-92. Alabama posted a resounding 41-17 win over the Tennessee on Oct. 20, 2007, in Tuscaloosa and followed that up with a 29-9 win last season in Knoxville. The most thrilling game in the Saban era came last season as a Vols last minute comeback was blocked by the hand of Terrence Cody, denying Tennessee a game winning field goal as time expired, giving Alabama a 12-10 victory. The first meeting took place Nov. 28, 1901, in Birmingham, when the two schools played to a 6-6 deadlock. Alabama posted an 8-1-1 record in the first 10 meetings with Tennessee, including eight shutouts, before the series was halted from 1915-27. The series resumed on Oct. 20, 1928, the first of 66 consecutive meetings on the third Saturday in October, with Tennessee claiming a 15-13 win in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won 11 consecutive games (1971-81) over Tennessee to gain the upper hand in the series. The Tide and Vols have met every year since 1928, with the exception of the 1943 season when neither school fielded a football team due to World War II. Tennessee posted a seven-game winning streak (1995-2001) over Alabama, marking the Vols longest winning streak in series history, also the longest by any opponent against Alabama. The Tide snapped that streak with a 34-13 win in Knoxville in 2002.

SABAN-DOOLEY CONNECTION: While the two have never faced off on the field against each other, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley is no stranger to Nick Saban. Dooley spent seven years under Saban, joining the three-time national coach of the year in his inaugural staff at LSU. Dooley wore many different hats under Saban, coaching running backs, tight ends and special teams at different points throughout the seven year span and served as recruiting coordinator at LSU in what became three of the most influential signing classes in the Tigers’ school history. Dooley accepted an offer in 2007 to become head coach at Louisiana Tech rather than follow Saban to Alabama, as he later described to prepare himself for a bigger job. Other former Saban assistants now serving in head roles include Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, both of whom are currently ranked in the AP top 25.

THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER: For 66 years the annual Alabama-Tennessee game was simply referred to as “The Third Saturday in October.” Alabama and Tennessee first played on the traditional third Saturday date Oct. 20, 1928. The tradition continued through the 1994 season. In 1995, the Southeastern Conference Office realigned its conference football schedule, putting an end to the 66-year tradition. The Oct. 14, 1995, game was played on the second Saturday in October. Since 1996, Alabama and Tennessee have met on the third Saturday in October six times, including the 2006 and 2007 games. The 2008 and 2009 games took place on the fourth Saturday in October. The series became so popular that the late Al Browning, former sports editor of The Tuscaloosa News and Knoxville News-Sentinel, wrote a book entitled Third Saturday in October, recapping each game in this tradition-rich football series.

SABAN VERSUS THE VOLS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban has compiled a 5-1 (.833) career record against Tennessee. He is 3-0 in his career at Alabama, including a 41-17 win in 2007 and a 29-9 last year. Saban is one of eight Alabama coaches to win his first game against Tennessee, joining W.B. Blount (1903), Jack Leavenworth (1905), J.W.H. Pollard (1906), D.V. Graves (1912), Red Drew (1947), Bill Curry (1987) and Gene Stallings (1990). During his stint at LSU, Saban faced Tennessee twice. On Sept. 30, 2000, Saban led LSU to a 38-31 overtime win over Tennessee at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. The following year, on Sept. 29, Tennessee posted a 26-18 overtime win over LSU at Neyland Stadium. LSU beat Tennessee, 30-21, on Dec. 8, 2001, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to win the SEC Championship.

UA/UT SERIES RANKINGS: History shows that when Alabama and Tennessee meet on the gridiron at least one team will be residing in the current Associated Press or USA Today Coaches poll. This year is no exception. Alabama is ranked No. 7 in this week’s AP poll, while Tennessee is not ranked. The 2010 season marks the third straight year the Crimson Tide has faced the Volunteers ranked among the top ten teams in the country. The top-ranked Crimson Tide narrowly escaped in last year’s 12-10 victory and in 2008 No. 2 Alabama beat Tennessee 29-9 in Knoxville. Prior to that game, the last time UA faced UT when ranked as high as No. 2 in the polls came in 1993 when the two teams played to a 17-17 tie at Legion Field. The Vols are unranked while playing Alabama for only the third time since 2000. At least one team has been ranked, in one poll or the other, every year since 1959, with the exception of 1968, 1984 and 2000. Since 1939, the highest ranked team has compiled a 46-9-2 record in the Alabama-Tennessee series.

ALABAMA-TENNESSEE TV RESULTS: The 2010 game marks the 34th televised game in series history. The Alabama-Tennessee game has been televised every year since 1989. The Crimson Tide owns a 17-13-2 record over the Volunteers in televised games.