Tomorrow is a holiday. As the Vols come to town for the 96th gridiron meeting between the University of Alabama and the University of Tennessee, Alabama holds a commanding lead in the series at 50-37-8.
For Tide fans, the game traditionally known as the “Third Saturday in October” settles in somewhere between Christmas and Thanksgiving. For Vol fans, the game is currently closer to Halloween.
Alabama is #1 in the country and back-to-back and defending National Champions. The Crimson Tide is the golden standard of college football, the program at the forefront of every discussion…all of them…when conversation starts on contention for being the best in the game. Bama is the measuring stick to which all other programs compare themselves.
Tennessee has seen better days, but no current Vol fan can remember exactly when those days took place. It seems the endless stream of cheap moonshine has been flowing for the last decade in a failed attempt to forget what they’ve seen in Knoxville.
What they’ve seen is six straight years of dominance by their most hated rival, and don’t kid yourself…Vol fans hate Bama more than any other program. It’s now been 2,561 days since Volunteer fans donned their best overhauls and enjoyed a win over Alabama. In the current six-game win streak, Alabama has been ranked #1 or #2 four times, while the Little Orange havn’t been ranked in their meetings since their first loss to the Tide in 2007.
Since Tennessee’s last win over Alabama, the Tide has shelved three National Championships while Tennessee has shelved three different coaches. Their current coach…finally able to lead them to a remotely significant win last week against the perennial underachieving South Carolina Gamecocks…looks more fit to “play” Rocky Top than lead it.
Still, as we saw last Saturday, upsets can happen, and this is a Volunteer team that’s playing harder than it has in recent years. So with this in mind, here are five scenarios of how the Vols can come away the victor tomorrow:
1.) If Alabama head coach Nick Saban believes the game is at Legion Field.
The site of dozens of contests between the two, Birmingham’s “Old Gray Lady” could bring back memories told by his friend Mal Moore and momentarily distract Bama’s head coach on game day. Birmingham is roughly an hour away from Tuscaloosa. With a 2:37pm kickoff, televised on CBS, by the time Saban realizes the game is actually supposed to be in Bryant-Denny and could get his team to Tuscaloosa, it’d be 3:30. By then Tennessee would have had at least 5 possessions and about 21 points.
Alabama would have to play from behind from that point and could not afford any turnovers if it wanted to nurse its 14 point lead going into the 4th quarter.
2.) If the student section isn’t full.
Because the University won’t currently do what it should, which is completely disallow the Greek system from block seating at games and/or reduce the student ticket allotment to about 10,000 total seats, fraternity and sorority students will continue to be interested in the game until Bama pulls away. At which point they’ll leave to prepare for the party.
When Nick Saban sees empty seats in the endzone, there is a decent chance that his head explodes. Kirby Smart has yet to coach a game as a head man, but would likley have to take over at that point. The coaching mistakes he might make in his first game could prove costly for Alabama, aiding a Volunteer squeaker in the end.
3.) The entire starting units get hurt on the opening kick-off.
I’ve never seen it happen, but it is possible that every single starter for the Tide could get hurt on the opening kick-off. If all eleven go down on the field with significant injuries, and then the CBS overhead cam disfunctions and flails itself into the Bama sideline, coupled by space debris crashing through the earth’s atmosphere at just the wrong time, kareening into the same spot, Alabama would be forced to play the rest of the game with players that are only a little better than Tennessee’s starting units.
4.) If the magic unicorn Tennessee and Auburn fans have been praying for shows up in Tuscaloosa.
We’ve heard it all from the oppressed praying for relief. “The Curse of Fluker” has done nothing but produce a 7-0 season so far, and waft into nothingness like a bad fart outside a Mexican Restaurant. The wing and a prayer of Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix’s situation was so lethal that the NCAA has already reinstated him. The “Saban To Texas” carousel has come and gone so many times we’re all dizzy.
Nick Saban is like the hot model wife everybody wants, but only one can have. He’s in demand, and if a team looking for a coach doesn’t at least call Jimmy Sexton to inquire, well, then whoever is conducting their search isn’t doing their job. But this and other myths haters hold onto with white knuckles as they keep a watchful eye on the calendar…marking days until their next Crimson beatdown…are nothing but fairytales.
Alabama destroys their opponents because they have better coaches, better coaching, better players, better focus, better preparation, and better strength and conditioning. The days of holding onto hope are behind us in Tuscaloosa, but they’re alive and well other places.
5.) If the team reads this article and believes all they have to do is show up.
Problem is, they won’t. And even if they did, what Nick Saban has built in Tuscaloosa is bigger than hype, emotion, or the “intangibles” analysts like to talk about. This Bama football program is special, with players programmed to look and think beyond the clutter and do what they have to do to dominate, not just win.
It’s why Bama’s record in “big games,” or “games of the century” under Saban is unprecedented. When other programs circle the Tide on their schedule, with ensuing build up rivaling a volcano, Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide rolls in on a business trip, takes care of business, takes your manhood, and goes home.
In all seriousness, can Bama lose tomorrow? Of course. Anybody can lose on any given Saturday. But you’d have to be the most brainwashed, unintelligent fan to believe a Volunteer victory would happen without significant, almost continuous help all game long.
That’s why I’m saying Bama makes it seven in a row, winning this one 38-6.