Experiencing the Alabama-Tennessee Rivalry

Holden Carter, Writer

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This Saturday, I experienced one of college football’s most traditional games, the rivalry simply called the Third Saturday in October. The Alabama Crimson Tide and Tennessee Volunteers have been bitter rivals on the gridiron since 1901. The two programs are some of the most traditional and successful in college football. The rivalry was especially heated when legendary coaches Robert Neyland of Tennessee and Bear Bryant of Alabama led their respected teams against each other. Beginning in 1928, the rivalry was scheduled on its most traditional date, every third Saturday of October.

Recently, the Crimson Tide have dominated the rivalry, thanks in part to the coaching of Nick Saban, who has not lost to Tennessee in his tenure at Alabama. Well, Alabama has completely dominated everyone in college football, winning four national championships since 2009 and consistently being ranked in the nation’s top five. Tennessee is more or less on the opposite side of the spectrum, hiring coach after coach in the time Alabama has been successful, only to get at most nine wins in a season. Prior to last Saturday, Alabama has won 10 straight games against the Vols.

My aunt and uncle are both University of Alabama graduates who live in Birmingham. It’s safe to say they’re die hard Crimson Tide fans, going to the biggest of games each year, including National Championships and SEC Championships. My dad grew up an Alabama fan as well, going to such games as their 1992 National Championship game in New Orleans. He has since grown apart from his allegiance with the Tide, choosing his alma mater Vanderbilt as his college football team. Over the summer, when my uncle brought up the idea of going to see Bama play, I was instantly excited. I had never seen Alabama play, or had ever been to a college football game with a capacity of more than 40,000 for that matter. I was expecting to probably see a lowly, out of conference team, since those tickets aren’t as expensive as games against SEC foes. He asked me and my dad, “how about the Tennessee game.” We both answered with a resounding yes, mainly because the chance to see our most hated team get obliterated in person by Alabama is something we were not going to pass up.

Arriving on Alabama’s campus, we found the streets were full of tailgaters and fans, mostly dressed in the crimson and white. I of course wanted to go to the bookstore to get some Alabama swag before kick off. After indulging myself with delicious tacos it was time for kickoff.

Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium is gigantic. It can hold over 100,000 people, which makes for a football experience that is truly electric. We found our seats, which were in the upper levels, but there are really no bad seats in the stadium. The band did a pregame show, which consisted of them forming a giant elephant and then letters that spelled out “Roll Tide.” Soon after, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide football ran onto the field, as their fans cheered and hollered in support of their team. The stadium was filled with people wearing the crimson and white. The presence of Vols fans was very dismal, probably in response to the recent poor play of their team and many predicting Alabama to win by over 30 points.

The Bama fans showed all kinds of emotions throughout. Some were visibly frustrated by their Crimson Tide’s offensive production in the first half, even though they led by a score of 21-0. The second half was more of the same, allowing Saban to put most of his second string offense and defense on the field.

I found out that every time Alabama gains a first down, the fans yell out an enthusiastic “Roll Tide,” and to many of them I’m sure it doesn’t get old even after the 34th time it’s shouted.

Alabama went onto win 45-7, with Tennessee’s only touchdown coming from a pick six. Bama was able to pick up 604 yards on offense, while Tennessee was only able to muster 108 yards. Fans throughout the stadium lit victory cigars as the clock hit zero, a Third Saturday in October tradition dating back to the 1950s. Alabama had extended its win streak to 11 games over Tennessee

To cap off my Alabama game day experience, I of course got a photo with the statue of Bear Bryant located outside the stadium. If anyone has a chance to go see a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, they should take it. The pure passion shown by the fans is incomprehensible. I’m so thankful I got to experience such a historical game, this being the 100th meeting of the two SEC rivals. It was definitely an experience I will remember for the rest of my life, and I look forward to possibly returning to see a game in the future.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Experiencing the Alabama-Tennessee Rivalry”

  1. Joe Carter on November 2nd, 2017 5:07 pm

    Holden. This is fabulous. Of course, I am your nana
    But, so proud of your writing ability.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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