NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — You don’t need a calendar to know what week of October you’re in when you live in the state of Tennessee. Sure, you have the obvious indicators that fall has arrived: the leaves changing colors, the shorter days, and the option to make anything pumpkin-spiced—even if you know deep down that not everything needs to be pumpkin-flavored. But if you’re a college football fan, all of that pales in comparison to a particular cross-divisional rivalry that happens to—most of the time—fall on the “Third Saturday in October.”
The Tennessee Volunteers welcome the Alabama Crimson Tide into Neyland Stadium on Oct. 15 for a top-10 showdown that could either solidify the Volunteers’ strong start to the 2022 campaign or extend a lengthy win streak for the Crimson Tide.
With over 100 years of showdowns between them, we decided to break down the Third Saturday in October by the numbers:
Since the teams first met in 1901, there has been a total of 104 games played between the rivals. Currently, Alabama is leading the series with 59 wins.
While the game currently alternates between Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Knoxville, Tenn., it has also been played at one other location. The teams first met in Birmingham, Ala. where the first seven meetings in the series took place. The Magic City would then alternate with Knoxville and Tuscaloosa. The last meeting at Birmingham’s Legion Field took place on Oct. 18, 1997. UT won that game 38-21, it was also Peyton Manning’s final matchup against Alabama.
Throughout the course of the series, the teams have tied eight times.
Note: Technically the series in the record books is shown to have seven ties as Alabama would ultimately have to forfeit the 1993 game that ended 17-17.
In fact, the first showdown between the Tide and Vols ended in a tie (6-6 on Nov. 28, 1901). The, since forfeited, tie in 1993 would end up being the series’ last. During the 1995-96 bowl season, the NCAA introduced new overtime rules that would eliminate the ability for games to end in a tie.
In 1908, the Alabama Crimson Tide won what must have been a real barnburner of a game in Birmingham. They beat the Volunteers 4-0 in the lowest-scoring winning effort recorded in the series. In the game played the previous year, Alabama won 5-0. Tennessee’s lowest-scoring winning effort was also a 5-0 game from 1904.
In 2003, Tennessee beat Alabama 51-43 in a game that took five overtimes to name a winner. The 94 points combined is the largest number of total points scored in any game during the series.
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The longest win streak in the series is the one Alabama, as of this writing, is currently on. Alabama has won 15 straight meetings against Tennessee. The Crimson Tide’s last loss to the Volunteers came in 2006 during Mike Shula’s final season as head coach. Tennessee’s longest win streak stands at seven (1995-2001).
6 head coaches
During Alabama’s 15-game win streak, the Tide have only had one coach, Nick Saban. Not counting interims, UT has had six different head coaches during that stretch: Phillip Fulmer, Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, Butch Jones, Jeremy Pruitt, and the current head coach Josh Heupel.
14 top ten rankings
Since 2007, Alabama has been ranked in the AP Top 10 14 times. The only time they were not ranked when facing Tennessee during that stretch was Nick Saban’s first meeting against UT. That same year the Vols were ranked 20th. Since then, and prior to the 2022 game, UT has only been ranked once during the Third Saturday in October. They were ranked 9th during the 2016 meeting.
The last time Tennessee and Alabama faced off when they were both ranked in the top 10 was in 1999. Tennessee won that game 21-7.
The 2022 meeting between the Volunteers and the Crimson Tide is the first time since the aforementioned 1999 showdown that both teams find themselves in the top 10. It’s the 11th time the two have met while both are ranked as 10th or better. Currently, UT holds the advantage in those games with a record of 5-4-1.
See what happens this year when the two face off for the 105th time on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 2:30 pm CST.