Alabama vs. Tennessee: Why Volunteers Make Matchup with Crimson Tide Interesting

Thomas BonifaceCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22:  Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against Prentiss Waggner #23, Marlon Walls #58 and A.J. Johnson #45 of the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

SEC football is always interesting.

Widely considered to be the best conference in the country, the SEC consistently features top programs playing one another on a weekly basis. 

Week 8 is no different, offering us fans a matchup of the No. 1 team in the country against a former powerhouse looking to get back into the national spotlight: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Tennessee Volunteers.

After annihilating the LSU Tigers in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, Alabama has been rolling through the regular 2012 season.  The Tide are scoring 40.5 points per game and giving up 7.5 points per game, which ranks them No. 1 in the country.

Tennessee, on the other hand, has not played quite as well as expected. 

After entering the season unranked, the Vols climbed to No. 23 in the polls before getting beat by the then-ranked No. 18 Florida Gators at home.  Tennessee then beat the Akron Zips but lost two straight games to the then-ranked No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs and the No. 19 Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Now the Vols get No. 1 Alabama at home.

At 0-3 in the SEC and 3-3 overall, Tennessee is desperate for a big win to help get its season back on track.  The Vols have little chance of playing for a conference title with three losses, but they could still become bowl-eligible and get a decent one, at that, if they win on Saturday.

A win over the No. 1 team in the country would also go a long way in bolstering Tennessee's resume going forward.

Why is this all relevant?


It makes this game an intriguing matchup between a top team that has yet to face any adversity this season and another team playing at home that essentially has nothing to lose.

While these two teams play every season in what is known as "The Third Saturday in October" rivalry, their 2009 matchup had a similar feel to it.

Alabama came into the game ranked No. 1 in the country after rolling through its schedule like it is doing this year. 

Tennessee came into the game at 3-3, looking to upset the Tide and get its second SEC win in as many weeks for coach Lane Kiffin.

Late in the game, Tennessee scored the game's only touchdown and recovered an onside kick that put it in a position to win the game with a last-second field goal.  Had it not been for Terrence Cody's block of that late field goal, the Vols would have won a game where they outplayed Alabama on both offense and defense.

This year, Tennessee has shown an ability to move the ball effectively both through the air, averaging 299 yards per game, and on the ground, averaging 183.3 yards per game. 

The Vols have shown that they can also score points, averaging of 38.0 points per game.

If it can pass both effectively and efficiently, score points and get a few defensive stops, then Tennessee may have a chance at upsetting the Crimson Tide on Saturday.