Countdown to Kickoff
Alabama Hosts Tennessee



Oct. 19, 2009

GAME 8: ALABAMA (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
VS.  TENNESSEE (3-3, 1-2 SEC)
SATURDAY, OCT. 24 • 2:35 P.M. • CBS

THE GAME: The No. 1/2 University of Alabama football team continues a three-game Southeastern Conference homestand with a visit from the Tennessee Volunteers, on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. on CBS with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson calling the action. Eli Gold, Phil Savage and Barry Krauss will have the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network.

HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his third season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school’s 27th head coach on January 3, 2007. Saban has compiled a 117-50-1 (.699) record as a collegiate head coach with a 26-8 (.764) mark at Alabama that includes a 7-0 record this year with a 4-0 mark in the SEC. He captured his 100th career win and coached his 150th game as a collegiate head coach during the 2008 campaign. In 2003, Saban led LSU to a 13-1 record and the BCS National Championship. Overall, Saban has coached three conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC and 2003 SEC) and nine of his 12 teams have played in post-season bowl games with Alabama already bowl eligible this season. Saban is one of two (Bob Stoops) current Football Bowl Subdivision coaches to coach for at least 10 years and not suffer a losing season.

RANKINGS: Alabama was ranked fifth in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ preseason polls. It was the highest preseason ranking for the Tide since the 2000 season when they opened at No. 3. Since that time, the Crimson Tide has vaulted all the way to the top of the AP poll and to No. 2 in the coaches poll. The Tide moved to No. 4 after the opening weekend with an Oklahoma loss and then to No. 3 in week three when Southern California fell. The Tide jumped Texas in the AP poll in week six and then overtook Florida for the top spot in week seven. The Tide also moved past Texas in the coahces’ poll this week. UA garnered a season-high 39 first-place votes in the AP poll and nine in the coaches’ poll.

BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 6-2 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the 2008 and 2009 seasons. The Crimson Tide’s 34-24 win over Virginia Tech in the season opener was the Tide’s third win over a top-10 team dating back to the start of the 2008 season. Alabama is 3-0 against the AP Top 25 in the 2009 season.

Alabama vs. Top 25 Opponents (since the start of the 2008 season)
Date                   Team                 Rank Result
Aug. 30, 2008      vs. Clemson        9      W, 34-10
Sept. 27, 2008     at Georgia           3      W, 41-30
Nov. 8, 2008        at LSU               15      W, 27-21 (OT)
Dec. 6, 2008        vs. Florida           2      L, 31-20
Jan. 2, 2009        vs. Utah              7      L, 31-17
Sept. 5, 2009       vs. Virginia Tech  7      W, 34-24
Oct. 10, 2009       at Mississippi      20    W, 22-3
Oct. 17, 2009       South Carolina    22    W, 20-6

INITIAL BCS RANKINGS RELEASED: Alabama is ranked second in the initial Bowl Championship Series standings released on Sunday, Oct. 18. The Crimson Tide (.9526) trails consensus No. 1 Florida (.9886) by a margin .0360. The Tide is ranked No. 2 in the Harris Interactive poll, the USA Today Coaches poll and is second in the average of all six computer rankings. Texas is third with a 0.8911 BCS average, with Boise State in fourth at .8083 and Cincinnati is fifth at .7870.

THE ALABAMA-TENNESSEE SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with Tennessee, 46-38-7, in a series that dates back to the 1901 season. The Crimson Tide has won the last two meetings and seeks its third 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 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 2009 meeting is the ninth in series history in Tuscaloosa. 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. UA snapped that streak with a 34-13 win in Knoxville in 2002.

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 4-1 (.800) career record against Tennessee.  He is 2-0 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). Prior to the 2007 season, Saban last faced Tennessee during the 2001 season at LSU. 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. 1 in this week’s AP poll, while Tennessee is not ranked. The 2009 season marks the second straight year the Crimson Tide has faced the Volunteers ranked among the top two teams in the country.  No. 2 Alabama beat Tennessee 29-9 last year 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 second 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 45-9-2 record in the Alabama-Tennessee series.

ALABAMA 24-1 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: Alabama has led at the half of its last six games. The Crimson Tide is 24-1 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban, including a 18-game winning streak. The only loss came against LSU during the 2007 season when UA held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing, 41-34, on Nov. 3, 2007, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide is 1-5 under Saban when trailing at halftime and 1-2 when tied at halftime. The lone win when trailing at the half came in the 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech in the 2009 season opener in Atlanta. Alabama’s lone win when tied at halftime came last year at LSU.

FIRST-TIME STARTERS: Fifteen Alabama players (9 on offense, 6 on defense) have made their first career starts for the Crimson Tide this season. On defense, senior linebacker Eryk Anders, sophomore defensive back Mark Barron and sophomore defensive lineman Marcell Dareus were first-time starters against Virginia Tech before sophomore free safety Robby Green made his first career start as the Tide employed five defensive backs on the first play of scrimmage against FIU and Courtney Upshaw got his first start at Kentucky. True freshman Nico Johnson made his first start at will linebacker against South Carolina. On offense, junior left tackle James Carpenter, sophomore center William Vlachos, sophomore right guard Barrett Jones, senior tight end Colin Peek, sophomore tight end/H-back Brad Smelley and junior quarterback Greg McElroy made their first starts against Tech. Against FIU, senior running back Roy Upchurch made his first start for the Crimson Tide and Darius Hanks started his first game vs. North Texas.

ALABAMA’S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 183-115-5 (.612) all-time record in 303 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts. The Crimson Tide owns a 158-96-3 (.621) record in 257 regular-season televised games.

15 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST TWO YEARS: The Tennessee game on CBS will be the Crimson Tide’s 15th national television game since the start of the 2008 season. UA opened the season with a national ABC broadcast against Virginia Tech and then CBS broadcast the Arkansas and Mississippi games. ESPN broadcast the Tide’s win over South Carolina in Bryant-Denny Stadium. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcast nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX. The 10 nationally broadcast games last year were tied with Notre Dame for the most in the nation.

ALABAMA-TENNESSEE TV RESULTS: The 2009 game marks the 33rd televised game in series history. The Alabama-Tennessee game has been televised every year since 1989. The Crimson Tide owns a 16-13-2 record over the Volunteers in televised games.

NEXT GAME: Following a bye week, Alabama finishes up a three-game homestand with a visit from the LSU Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 7. The Crimson Tide leads the series 44-23-5. UA enters the game after a 27-21 overtime win in Baton Rouge last season, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Tigers. UA is 8-8 all time against the Tigers in Tuscaloosa and 19-15-2 in the state of Alabama.