Gamedays in Knoxville are always something a little special.
Whether fans drive to the game or take their boats on the Tennessee River to Neyland Stadium, there is never a lack of excitement when some 102,000 fans gather.
That will especially hold true this Saturday when the rival Alabama Crimson Tide sail into town looking to capture their seventh win of the season against the Tennessee Volunteers.
Fresh-off a 23-10 win over Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa last Saturday night, Alabama (6-1, 3-1) is hoping not to stub its toes again like the last road venture, a 35-21 loss in South Carolina.
“We’ve played a little better at home than we have on the road,” Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban said after Wednesday’s practice, adding that Saturday’s game “is an opportunity for us to sort of show that we can play with focus and intensity and execute in a very difficult environment against a good team on the road.”
Last season’s encounter between Alabama and UT was a nail-biter en route to the Tide’s national championship.
The seventh-ranked Crimson Tide needed a blocked field goal on the final play by Terrence Cody to avoid a stunning upset last season (12-10), which should leave Alabama focused on a team that despite a 2-4 record, will be gunning for the upset Saturday night.
“It doesn’t matter what Tennessee’s record is,” defensive tackle Marcel Dareus said in comments this week. “When we come to play Tennessee they’re going to bring their ‘A Game.’ They play hard every time we play them, just like last year. We couldn’t say anything about their record but when they come to play us they put on a fight.”
After holding Ole Miss to 243 yards of offense last weekend, ‘Bama will look to dial up the defense against a Tennessee team that has been up and down this season.
Once again, ‘Bama will face a team coming off a bye week, as Tennessee last played in a 41-14 loss to Georgia on Oct. 9.
Saturday’s game against the Volunteers is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. (CDT). It will be nationally televised on ESPN with Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge in the booth and Holly Rowe on the sideline.
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Written by Dave Thomas