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A Nice Weekend of Hate in the SEC

Posted: Oct 23, 2008

One of the most hate-filled rivalries in college football will see another chapter written on Saturday when the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide invade Knoxville to take on the Volunteers. The “Third Saturday in October” tradition (although played on the fourth Saturday a few times over the last decade) may not be as intense for many younger fans, but this one is steeped in history. Before divisional play started in 1992, this contest was the measuring stick for both teams in the middle of the season. It was a huge emphasis game for Hall of Fame coaches Robert Neyland and Bear Bryant, and many times whichever school won this one would be the top dog in the South. Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer has always stressed the importance and history of the rivalry, and he has dominated the Tide during his tenure.

That being said, Fulmer is under a ton of pressure this season as the Vols have slipped in the SEC pecking order over the last few seasons. Not only has Tennessee struggled against top teams in recent years, the Vols were shockingly blown out last season (41-17) by an Alabama team who went on to lose to Louisiana-Monroe. Kevin Scarbinsky details when many think the decline of Tennessee’s program started, and that was the 2001 SEC title game when they were upset by Nick Saban’s LSU Tigers. Saban came to Tuscaloosa last season and handed Fulmer another painful loss. The ramifications of a Vol loss this Saturday, to the one big rival Fulmer has consistently beaten, could be huge for the Tennessee program. Like always, the UT-Bama should be a hard-hitting and intense affair, and it feels like it could be Fulmer’s last stand.

Another big SEC game takes place Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge when the Georgia Bulldogs travel west to battle the LSU Tigers. While this one doesn’t have the history of the Tennessee-Bama rivalry, this contest will be just as intense as both of these highly-ranked teams enter the game with a chip on their shoulder. These schools have won five of the last seven SEC titles, and both had huge expectations this season before suffering humiliating losses. This will be LSU and Georgia’s first meeting since the 2005 SEC Championship Game when the Bulldogs stunned the Tigers, 34-14. The LSU seniors want revenge for the 2005 title game, and the 45-16 beatdown they received from Georgia in 2004. The Bulldogs know that they must play better than they have recently with trips to Baton Rouge and Jacksonville the next two Saturdays.

These two big-ticket games, plus Houston Nutt’s return to Arkansas and Kentucky-Florida, make it another all-day, all-night Saturday of football consumption for the fans of the SEC. Get your food and beverages ready early, and make sure to enjoy some hard-hittin’ hate - Southern style.


Patrick Snow

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