Alabama vs Tennessee: A Historical Retrospective

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The Third Saturday in October is a rivalry of streaks. Over the 109-years of the rivaly, it has been common for one program will gain the upper hand and run with it for the better part of the decade before the tables turn and the other school has its time in the win column. (Alabama leads the all-time series with Tennessee, 46-38-7.)

For Alabama the woes of the program's nadir in the 1950s was exemplified by the run of futility against the Volunteers. Between 1940 and 1960 the Crimson Tide eked out a meagre 1-9-2 record against Tennessee. Exempting a 27-0 victory in Knoxville in 1954, Alabama was outscored by the Volunteers 188-56 over that span.

So when Paul W. Bryant arrived in Tuscaloosa in 1958, one of the priorities for his program to revitalize Alabama football was getting the upper hand in the Third Saturday in October rivalry.

Bryant's legend as a player harked back to the 1935 contest against the Volunteers when he played one of the best games of his career despite having a fractured shin bone. Skeptical sportswriters were shown the X-rays when they doubted he'd played on a broken leg and Bryant later said "it was one little bone."

But as a head coach his record against Tennessee was less than inspiring. In his eight years at Kentucky he'd only been able to best the boys from Rocky Top on one occasion and never while they were under the direction of General Neyland. Things would be different at Alabama.

As Alabama's head coach didn't start out particularly promising. Alabama had been ineffectual against the Volunteers since 1954 and things didn't change just because Coach Bryant arrived. His first trip to Knoxville resulted in a 14-7 loss but the next season the Crimson Tide managed a 7-7 tie. The W eluded Coach Bryant again in 1960 as Tennessee won 20-7, Alabama's only loss the entire season.

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In 1961, everything changed. The Tide was a force that season outscoring their first four opponents 102-19 and climbing to No. 5 in the rankings when the Volunteers came to town.

More than 48,000 fans gathered in the newly-expanded Birmingham's Legion Field to see a game and were kept out of the brand new upper deck since the proper security clearance had not been obtained. The contest was also broadcast regionally on television (incidentally, Alabama's first televised game occurred in the same venue against the Volunteer exactly ten years prior).

Tennessee struck first putting three points on the scoreboard due to a 53-yard field goal booted by George Shuford. They never scored again. Alabama responded by going 59 yards in six plays to score the first Tide touchdown. From there, things got really ugly for the Volunteers. 

The Tide ended up winning 34-3 although the crowd was screaming "WE WANT 40!" as time expired ending Alabama's final drive. It was the most lopsided final score in the rivalry since the 51-0 Alabama victory in 1906. But the score didn't really reflect the scale of the win. Tennessee was only able to eke out 38 yards rushing and 23 yards passing the entire afternoon.

Coach Bryant was so proud of his players he gave each and every one of them a ring to mark the occasion -- a red stone with an "A" inscribed on it. Yet it was another gift presented at the end of the game that continues to ring down in Crimson Tide lore.

After the game, Alabama's longtime trainer Jim Goostree handed out victory cigars to all the players and coaches in the locker room beginning a hallowed Crimson Tide tradition. Goostree, who served on the Alabama sidelines for almost three decades and was later inducted into the National Athletic Trainer's Hall of Fame, had a reason to take the Third Saturday in October personally.

He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee.

Alabama vs Tennessee Historical Record

Season W/L Score Date Location Game Info/Rank
1901 T 6-6 Nov. 28 Birmingham, AL
1903 W 24-0 Nov. 26 Birmingham, AL
1904 L 0-5 Nov. 24 Birmingham, AL
1905 W 29-0 Nov. 30 Birmingham, AL
1906 W 51-0 Nov. 29 Birmingham, AL
1907 W 5-0 Nov. 28 Birmingham, AL
1908 W 4-0 Nov. 26 Birmingham, AL
1909 W 10-0 Nov. 13 Knoxville, TN
1912 W 7-0 Nov. 28 Birmingham, AL
1913 W 6-0 Nov. 14 Tuscaloosa, AL
1914 L 7-17 Oct. 24 Knoxville, TN
1928 L 13-15 Oct. 20 Tuscaloosa, AL Homecoming
1929 L 0-6 Oct. 19 Knoxville, TN
1930‡† W 18-6 Oct. 18 Tuscaloosa, AL Homecoming
1931 W 0-25 Oct. 17 Knoxville, TN
1932 W 3-7 Oct. 15 Birmingham, AL
1933† W 12-6 Oct. 21 Knoxville, TN
1934‡† W 13-6 Oct. 20 Birmingham, AL
1935 W 25-0 Oct. 19 Knoxville, TN
1936 T 0-0 Oct. 17 Birmingham, AL
1937 W 14-7 Oct. 16 Knoxville, TN
1938 L 0-13 Oct. 15 Birmingham, AL
1939 L 0-21 Oct. 21 Knoxville, TN Alabama (8) Tenn (5)
1940 L 12-27 Oct. 19 Birmingham, AL Tenn (5)
1941‡† W 9-2 Oct. 18 Knoxville, TN
1942 W 8-0 Oct. 17 Birmingham, AL Alabama (4) Tenn (15)
1944 T 0-0 Oct. 21 Knoxville, TN Tenn (17)
1945† W 25-7 Oct. 20 Birmingham, AL Alabama (6)
1946 L 0-12 Oct. 19 Knoxville, TN Alabama (7) Tenn (9)
1947 W 10-0 Oct. 18 Birmingham, AL
1948 L 6-21 Oct. 16 Knoxville, TN
1949 T 7-7 Oct. 15 Birmingham, AL
1950 L 9-14 Oct. 21 Knoxville, TN Tenn (18)
1951 L 13-27 Oct. 20 Birmingham, AL Tenn (2)
1st televised game
1952 L 0-20 Oct. 18 Knoxville, TN Alabama (18)
1953† T 0-0 Oct. 17 Birmingham, AL
1954 W 27-0 Oct. 16 Knoxville, TN
1955 L 0-20 Oct. 15 Birmingham, AL
1956 L 0-24 Oct. 20 Knoxville, TN Tenn (7)
1957 L 0-14 Oct. 19 Birmingham, AL
1958 L 7-14 Oct. 18 Knoxville, TN
1959 T 7-7 Oct. 17 Birmingham, AL Tenn (14)
1960 L 7-20 Oct. 15 Knoxville, TN Alabama (15)
1961‡† W 34-3 Oct. 21 Birmingham, AL Alabama (5)
1962 W 27-7 Oct. 20 Knoxville, TN Alabama (2)
1963 W 35-0 Oct. 19 Birmingham, AL Alabama (9)
1964‡† W 19-8 Oct. 17 Knoxville, TN Alabama (3)
1965‡† T 7-7 Oct. 16 Birmingham, AL
1966† W 11-10 Oct. 15 Knoxville, TN Alabama (3)
1967 L 13-24 Oct. 21 Birmingham, AL Alabama (6) Tenn (7)
1968 L 9-10 Oct. 19 Knoxville, TN Tenn (8)
1969 L 14-41 Oct. 18 Birmingham, AL Alabama (20) Tenn (7)
1970 L 0-24 Oct. 17 Knoxville, TN Tenn (14)
1971† W 32-15 Oct. 16 Birmingham, AL Alabama (4) Tenn (14)
1972† W 17-10 Oct. 21 Knoxville, TN Alabama (3) Tenn (10)
1973‡† W 42-21 Oct. 20 Birmingham, AL Alabama (2) Tenn (10)
1974† W 28-6 Oct. 19 Knoxville, TN Alabama (4)
1975† W 30-7 Oct. 18 Birmingham, AL Alabama (6) Tenn (16)
1976 W 20-13 Oct. 16 Knoxville, TN Alabama (20)
1977† W 24-10 Oct. 15 Birmingham, AL Alabama (4)
1978‡† W 30-17 Oct. 21 Knoxville, TN Alabama (4)
1979‡† W 27-17 Oct. 20 Birmingham, AL Alabama (1) Tenn (18)
1980 W 27-0 Oct. 18 Knoxville, TN Alabama (1)
1981† W 38-19 Oct. 17 Birmingham, AL Alabama (15)
1982 L 28-35 Oct. 16 Knoxville, TN Alabama (2)
1983 L 34-41 Oct. 15 Birmingham, AL Alabama (11)
1984 L 27-28 Oct. 20 Knoxville, TN
1985 L 14-16 Oct. 19 Birmingham, AL Alabama (15) Tenn (20)
1986 W 56-28 Oct. 18 Knoxville, TN Alabama (2)
1987 W 41-22 Oct. 17 Birmingham, AL Tenn (8)
1988 W 28-20 Oct. 15 Knoxville, TN
1989† W 47-30 Oct. 21 Birmingham, AL Alabama (10) Tenn (6)
1990 W 9-6 Oct. 20 Knoxville, TN Tenn (3)
1991 W 24-19 Oct. 19 Birmingham, AL Alabama (14) Tenn (8)
1992‡† W 17-10 Oct. 17 Knoxville, TN Alabama (4) Tenn (13)
1993 T 17-17 Oct. 16 Birmingham, AL Alabama (2) Tenn (10)
Forfeited by NCAA
1994 W 17-13 Oct. 15 Knoxville, TN Alabama (10)
1995 L 14-41 Oct. 14 Birmingham, AL Alabama (11) Tenn (6)
1996 L 13-20 Oct. 26 Knoxville, TN Alabama (7) Tenn (6)
1997 L 21-38 Oct. 18 Birmingham, AL Tenn (9)
1998 L 18-35 Oct. 24 Knoxville, TN Tenn (3)
1999† L 7-21 Oct. 23 Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama (10) Tenn (3)
2000 L 10-20 Oct. 21 Knoxville, TN
2001 L 24-35 Oct. 20 Tuscaloosa, AL Tenn (11)
2002 W 34-14 Oct. 26 Knoxville, TN Alabama (19) Tenn (16)
Alabama's 750th Win
2003 L 43-51 Oct. 25 Tuscaloosa, AL Tenn (22) 5OT
2004 L 13-17 Oct. 23 Knoxville, TN Tenn (11)
2005 W 6-3 Oct. 22 Tuscaloosa Alabama (5) Tenn (17)
Vacated by the NCAA
2006 L 13-16 Oct. 21 Knoxville, TN Tenn (7)
2007 W 41-17 Oct. 20 Tuscaloosa Tenn (20)
2008 W 29-9 Oct. 25 Knoxville, TN Alabama (2)
2009‡† W 12-10 Oct. 24 Tuscaloosa Alabama (1)

‡ National Champion, † SEC Champion

Source: The University of Alabama 2010 Football Media Guide

 

The Alabama vs Tennessee Record Book

Record Alabama Tennessee
Most Points 56 (1986) 51 (2003)
Fewest Points 0 (12 times) 0 (16 times)
Most 1st Down 32 (1989) 27 (2003)
Fewest 1st Down 9 (1962) 5 (4 times)
Most Yards Rush 457 (1986) 242 (1969)
Fewest Yards Rush 20 (1969) 22 (1980)
Most Yards Pass 379 (1989) 358 (1987)
Fewest Yards Pass 2 (1976) 8 (1962)
Most Total Plays 99 (2003) 83 (2001)
Fewest Total Plays 41 (1959) 42 (1965)
Most Yds Tot Off 562 (1989) 524 (1983)
Fewest Yds Tot Off 188 (1959) 59 (1980)
Most Yards Rush 217
(Bobby Humphrey, 86)
162
(Travis Stephens, 01)
Most Yards Pass 379
(G Hollingsworth, 89)
358
(Jeff Francis, 87)
Most Receptions 13
(DJ Hall, 2007)
7
(3 times)
Most Yards Rec 185
(DJ Hall, 2007)
137
(Clyde Duncan, 1983)

Source: The University of Alabama Football Record Book

 

Tennessee & The Alabama Record Book

Record Place Year Statistic Holder
Most All-Purpose Yards 1st 1989 317 (125 rush, 158 rec, 34 KOR) Siran Stacy
Most Receptions 1st 2007 13 (185 yd) DJ Hall
Most QB Sacks 1st 1975 13 (-82 yd) team
Longest Punts 1st 1933 89 yards Dixie Howell
Most Punts 1st 1932 19 (914 yd) Johnny Cain
Most Punt Yards 1st 1932 914 (19 punts) Johnny Cain
Best Avg Punt (min 10) 1st 1932 48.1 (19 for 914) Johnny Cain
Most Int Return Yards 1st 1954 141 (1 td) team
Most Int Thrown 1st 1970 8  team
Most Turnovers 1st 1970 9  (1 fbl, 8 int) team
Most Opp Int Ret Yds 1st 1970 133 (8 int) team
Most Punt Returns 1st 1946 8 (63 yd) Harry Gilmer
Most Points In A Loss 1st 2003 43 (43-51, 5 OT)
Most Blocked Kicks 1st (tie) 2009 2 (2 field goals)
Terrence Cody
Most Pass Completions 1st (tie) 1989 32 (46 att, 379 yd) Gary Hollingsworth
Most Pass Completions 1st (tie) 2007 32 (46 att, 363 yd) John Parker Wilson
Most Consec Compl 1st (tie) 2008 12 John Parker Wilson
Highest Compl Pct (min 30) 1st (tie) 1989 69.6% (32 of 46) Gary Hollingsworth
Highest Compl Pct (min 30) 1st (tie) 2007 69.6% (32 of 46) John Parker Wilson
Most Interceptions 1st (tie) 1982 3 (44 yd) Jeremiah Castille
Fewest Pass Yd QB Debut 1st (tie) 1974 0 Jack O'Rear
Most Penalty 1st Down  1st (tie) 2007 6 team
Fewest Pass 1st Down 1st (tie) 1962 1 Joe Namath
Fewest Opp Attempts 1st (tie) 1960 2 team
Fewest Opp Pass 1st Dn 1st (tie) 1974 0 team
Most Ints Thrown 1st (tie) 1967 5 Kenny Stabler
Most Ints Thrown 1st (tie) 1970 5 Scott Hunter
Longest Scoring Pass Play 2nd 1987 90 yards Jeff Dunn to Pierre Goode
Most Plays 2nd 2003 99 (5OT) team
Rush Attempts 2nd 2003 40 (166 yd) Shaud Williams
Most Int Return Yards 2nd 1954 96 yards Corky Tharp
Longest Int Return 2nd 1954 96 yards Corky Tharp
Most Yards 2nd (tie) 2007 391(363 pass, 28 rush) John Parker Wilson
Most Receptions 2nd (tie) 1969 12 (153 yd) David Bailey
Most Receptions 2nd (tie) 1970 12 (150 yd) David Bailey
Most Tackles for Loss 2nd (tie) 2000 4 Kenny Smith
Most QB Sacks 2nd (tie) 1975 4 (36 yd) Leroy Cook
Most KO Returns 2nd (tie) 1970 5 (70 yards) Buddy Seay
Most KO Returns 2nd (tie) 1998 5 (118 yards) Arvin Richard
Most Plays 3rd 1995 58 (43 pass, 15 run) team
Most Yards Passing 3rd 1989 379 (32 of 46) Gary Hollingsworth
Yards per Rush (min 10) 3rd 2001 14.1 (10 att, 141 yd) Santonio Beard
Most Receiving Yards 3rd 2007 185 (13 catch) DJ Hall
Most Points 3rd (tie) 1989 24 (4 td) Siran Stacy
Highest Scoring Game 3rd (tie) 2003 94 (Tenn 51, Bama 43, 5OT)
Most Pass Attempts 3rd (tie) 1989 46 (32 cpl, 379 yd) Gary Hollingsworth
Most Pass Attempts 3rd (tie) 2007 46 (32 cpl, 363 yd) John Parker Wilson
Most Rush Attempts 3rd (tie) 1996 38 (184 yd) Dennis Riddle
Most Kicking Points 3rd (tie) 2007 15 (4 FG, 3 PAT) Leigh Tiffin
Most Field Goals 3rd (tie) 1980 4 Peter Kim
Most Pass Yd QB Debut 4th 1987 229 (10 cpl, 17 att, 1 int) Jeff Dunn
Total Touchdowns 4th (tie) 1989 4 (3 rush, 1 rec) Siran Stacy
Most Touchdown Passes 4th (tie) 1954 3 Albert Elmore
Most Touchdown Passes 4th (tie) 1963 3 Joe Namath
Most Touchdown Passes 4th (tie) 2007 3 John Parker Wilson
Most Total TDs 4th (tie) 1989 4 (3 rush, 1 rec) Siran Stacy
Most Points In A Loss 4th (tie) 1983 34 (34-41)
Most Yards 5th 1989 378 (379 pass, -1 rush) Gary Hollingsworth
Yards per Rush (min 10) 5th (tie) 1973 12.1 (12 att, 145 yd, 2td) Wilbur Jackson
Most Consec Rush 5th (tie) 1989 9 Siran Stacy
Most Yards Passing 5th (tie) 2007 363 (32 of 46) John Parker Wilson
Most Rush Yards 6th 1986 217 (36 att) Bobby Humphrey
QB Rush Yards 6th 1976 119 (18 att, 1 td) Jack O'Rear
Most Plays 6th 1968 55 (45 pass, 10 run) Scott Hunter
Most Pass Attempts 6th (tie) 1968 45 (19 cpl, 187 yd) Scott Hunter
Longest Scoring Pass Play 7th (tie) 1973 80 yards Gary Rutledge to Wayne Wheeler
Most Receiving Yards 7th (tie) 1989 158 (9 catch) Siran Stacy
Most Plays 8th 2007 52 (46 run, 6 pass) John Parker Wilson
Highest Scoring Game 9th 1986 84 (Bama 56, Tenn 28)
Yards per Rush (min 10) 9th 1983 11.4 (11 att, 125 yd) Kerry Goode
Most Pass Attempts 10th (tie) 1995 43 (20 cpl, 204 yd) Freddie Kitchens
Most Receptions 10th (tie) 2005 10 (139 yd) DJ Hall
Most Receptions 12th (tie) 1989 9 (158 yd) Siran Stacy
Most Points In A Loss 15th (tie) 1982 28 (28-34)
Longest Scoring Pass Play 15th (tie) 1989 75 yards Gary Hollingsworth to Siran Stacy
Longest TD Rushes 16th (tie) 1973 80 yards Wilbur Jackson
Longest Field Goal 16th (tie) 2000 50 yards (no tee) Neal Thomas

Source: The University of Alabama Football Record Book

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