Countdown to Kickoff



By Barry Allen
UA Media Relations

One of college football’s most colorful rivalries takes place this weekend when the Alabama Crimson Tide meets the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium in the annual “Third Saturday in October” clash between these two Southeastern Conference football titans.

The Crimson Tide and Volunteers celebrate the 90th renewal of this series this weekend in Tuscaloosa.  The two teams have met every year since 1928, with the exception of 1943 when neither school fielded a football team due to World War II.

Alabama has had a number of significant wins over Tennessee over the last 89 seasons. will look at some the Crimson Tide’s memorable games with the Vols. Today, the 1930, 1934, 1935, 1945, 1953 and 1961 games will be featured. On Friday, read about the games from 1966, 1972, 1973, 1986, 1990, 1993, 2002 and 2005.

Here is a look at some more memorable Alabama-Tennessee games:

Alabama 18, Tennessee 6 (Nov. 18, 1930 - Tuscaloosa)
Alabama had a coach under fire before the start of the 1930 regular season. After a series of arguments with school president George Denny and an uprising among fans who were upset over back-to-back 6-3 records that included narrow losses to Tennessee, Wallace Wade submitted his resignation on April 30. It was accepted contingent on him leading the Crimson Tide through one more year.  "Coach Wade was boiling mad," John Henry Suther, Alabama's tailback, once recalled. "He was like a blood-thirsty drill sergeant anyway, and those critics made him more fiery ... He challenged us to help him shut up the loudmouths that were making his life miserable." 

By the time the Tennessee game arrived, Alabama was unbeaten and untied and its fans had regained spirit. With every ticket sold, 8,000 temporary seats were constructed so 20,000 fans could pack themselves into Denny Stadium.  The Volunteers were no match for the Crimson Tide, which won the national title that year. Wade still left to go to Duke.

The 1930 loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa would be the only loss by a Tennessee football team over a period of 64 games from 1926-1933.  During that stretch, Coach Robert Neyland’s Vol squads compiled an impressive 57-1-6 record, making this one of the great wins in Crimson Tide history.

Alabama 13, Tennessee 6 (October 20, 1934 - Birmingham)
This one was a classic and the outcome was not decided until the final whistle.  The running, passing and punting of Alabama’s Millard “Dixie” Howell prompted Coach Neyland of Tennessee to rate him as the finest back in the South.  Joe Demyanovich scored on an eight-yard run to give Alabama a 6-0 lead in the second quarter.  UT tied the game three possessions later with a two-yard TD run by George Craig. Like Alabama, Tennessee missed the extra point.  Future NFL Hall of Famer Don Hutson scored on a seven-yard end around in the third quarter for the winning points for Alabama. 
Howell later made a game-saving tackle on a punt return in the final minutes to preserve the win for the Crimson Tide. 

Alabama 25, Tennessee 0 (October 19, 1935 - Knoxville
Alabama dominated Tennessee in Knoxville and posted a 25-0 win.  The Crimson Tide made 17 first downs and 265 yards, while the Vols managed only three first

 Alabama’s Paul Bryant
played with a broken leg
against Tennessee in 1935.
downs and 40 total yards.  Alabama’s Paul Bryant played the game with the broken leg, proving to the nation how important the Tennessee game really was to Alabama football.  Bryant set up two first half touchdowns in the win over Tennessee.  He caught a pass to set up the first touchdown and then later was the middle man in a forward lateral razzle-dazzle that sent Riley Smith into the end zone.

Alabama 25, Tennessee 7 (October 20, 1945 - Birmingham)
Unbeaten Alabama and unbeaten Tennessee clashed in Birmingham. Most observers thought a Rose Bowl berth was at stake, which ended up being the case. Crimson Tide halfback Harry Gilmer put on an astounding running and passing show as the home team dominated. Alabama completed the season unbeaten and untied, also with a victory over Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl, and Tennessee did not lose again.

Alabama 0, Tennessee 0 (October 17, 1953 - Birmingham)
The game was televised by NBC Sports, a rare occasion during those days. Mel Allen did the play-by-play and Lindsey Nelson did the color analysis. The former was an Alabama graduate and the latter a Tennessee graduate. At the end of
the telecast, Allen said: "So, we have seen a nothing-to-nothing tie and Lindsey and I can still be friends."

Alabama 34, Tennessee 3 (October 21, 1961 - Birmingham)
Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant earned his first win over Tennessee with a resounding 34-3 victory at Legion Field.  The win was Alabama’s first over Tennessee since 1954.  The 31-point win over the Vols also catapulted the Tide in the national rankings as UA finished the season with an 11-0 record and the first of six national championships in the Bryant era.