Oct. 23, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - It's hard to imagine a football season without an Alabama-Tennessee game.
But for a dozen years, from 1915-27, the Crimson Tide and Volunteers did not meet on the gridiron, a streak that ended when Tennessee head coach General Robert Neyland saw the need for Alabama to be on the UT schedule each fall if the Vols were to play a role in the national scene of college football.
So, the two teams renewed their rivalry in 1928. Tennessee won the first two games of the renewal, beating Alabama 15-13 in the final game at Denny Field in 1928 and 6-0 in Knoxville in 1929.
In 1930, Neyland's Volunteers rode into Tuscaloosa with 33-game unbeaten streak and back-to-back wins over the Crimson Tide. Alabama head coach Wallace Wade had submitted his resignation as the Crimson Tide's head coach on April 30, 1930. It was accepted contingent on him leading the Crimson Tide through one more year.
By the time the Tennessee game arrived, Alabama was unbeaten and untied and its fans had regained their spirit after the Crimson Tide opened the season with wins over Howard, Mississippi and Sewanee, outscoring the trio by a combined 132-0.
With every ticket sold, 8,000 temporary seats were constructed so 20,000 fans could pack themselves into Denny Stadium.
The Volunteers proved to be no match for the rejuvenated Crimson Tide, falling 18-6 on Nov. 18, 1930 in one of the most significant wins in Tide football lore.
After a scoreless first quarter, Alabama took over at its own 19-yard line and scored in 11 plays, using a mixture of line plunges and end runs. Johnny Cain covered the last 14-yard with a run around right end to give the Tide a 6-0 lead.
Later, it was Alabama's ball on the Tennessee 40-yard line. John Henry Suther picked up nine yards on first down and then scampered around left end for a 31-yard touchdown to put the Tide up 12-0.
Tennessee came back behind the play of quarterback Bobby Dodd. Dodd zipped a 34-yard pass to Virgil Rayburn putting the ball at the UA 45-yard line. He completed an 8-yard pass to Theodore Disney. On second down, Dodd ran down the right side of the field and the ball was snapped to Buddy Hackman, who threw a long one to Dodd, who cut back and had gotten behind Alabama's safety man. The ball bounced off Dodd's chest and fell incomplete.
The Crimson Tide, aided by a 46-yard run from Suther, moved from its own 20 to the Tennessee 20 as the first half ended.
Alabama capitalized on a turnover to score its next touchdown. Joe Sharp recovered a fumbled punt at the UT 12-yard line, setting up the Tide in excellent field position. It took six line plunges to make the distance with J.R. Campbell scoring from the 1-yard line to give the Tide an 18-0 lead.
Tennessee's only touchdown came on Hackman's 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Tide defense was brilliant throughout the game and the line play was solid. The game ended with Alabama in possession of the ball at the Tennessee 8-yard line.
The following week, Alabama posted a 12-7 win over Vanderbilt and the 13 points scored by Tennessee and Vanderbilt were the only points allowed by the Crimson Tide defense in 1930. After the Vanderbilt game, Alabama pitched five more shutouts against Kentucky, Florida, LSU and Georgia and closed the year with a 24-0 win over Washington State in the Jan. 1, 1931 Rose Bowl to capture its third national title in six years.