TN vs. Bama: Decades of Tradition

(WBIR) Tennessee will face its toughest foe yet on Saturday- number one ranked Alabama.

The Volunteers (4-3, 1-2 SEC) will visit top-ranked Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 pm. The game will be televised on CBS.

Both teams won their last games last weekend. UT overcame the South Carolina Gamecocks 23-21. The Crimson Tide silenced Arkansas 52-0.

It's a game with decades of rich tradition, usually played on the third Saturday in October. Even though Tennessee is in a slump right now, having lost the last six meetings, they've pulled out some amazing and unlikely victories in the past.

In 1982, Johnny Majors and the Vols break an 11-game losing streak to the Tide with a 35 to 28 win in Knoxville.

"The most memorable play I remember in the whole game of course was the interception in the last minute or two of the game. When Alabama was about our 20 yard line. They throw the ball into the endzone and Lee Jenkins our cornerback comes up and hits the guy simultaneously when the ball gets there and it splatters and it goes up in the air and it's tipped back towards the goal line and Mike Terry catches it and falls to his knees with a touchback," said Majors.

Then there was that memorable photograph from that game, taken by News Sentinel photographer Michael Patrick, of the moment when Majors shook hands with the legendary Bear Bryant.

"It's totally panic down there. The first thing you're trying to do is get the picture of the two coaches at center field," said Patrick.

Majors said, "I didn't intend to be on the players shoulders and reach down to shake coach Bryant's hand out of respect for him."

Going back and looking at the tape, you can see Patrick fighting to hold his ground to get the perfect shot.

"I literally have one camera with black and white film in it and one with color film in it. That was one of the moments I knew I needed and I shot that in color," said Parick.

"Before I jumped down he stuck his hand up with his houndstooth hat and I jumped down and he says you had a very good game-plan Johnny. I thought we had too, but I said thank you," said Majors.

At that time.. Michael Patrick didn't know his photo would still be such a major image in Tennessee history.

Patrick said, "You're so intent on covering the moment and trying to make sure you get all the pictures you need to have, the play of the game and in this case the two coaches meeting, you don't think about it at the time, you're just busy trying to get it done."

In 1995, Phillip Fulmer came out swinging on the first play of the game. A young quarterback named Peyton Manning tossed to Joey Kent over the middle. 80 yards later, the Vols were on the board first.

In 1996, Jay Graham broke through and outran the Bama secondary.. 79 yards to push Tennessee to victory.

"If you don't get 100 yards that's not anything to get discouraged about, but when you win that's the most important thing and that's what I took with me each week. Getting better, trying to win for Tennessee," said Graham.

The last time Tennessee came close to beating Alabama was in 2009. Daniel Lincoln lined up for a 44-yard game winning field goal, but Terrence Cody blocked it and the Crimson Tide won 12 to 10.

The list of memorable moments is endless. But for team 117, it's all about the present.. And defeating the top team in the nation on Saturday.


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