History lesson

If you had to pick one rivalry that captures the essence of Tennessee football, it would be the Alabama series. The 92 games between these heated Southeastern Conference rivals has produced many of the most memorable moments in Big Orange annals.

What follows is a brief history of the rivalry:

1914: After going 1-8-1 in the series' first 10 meetings, Tennessee prevailed 17-7 en route to a 9-0 record and its first Southern Intercollegiate Athletics Association title.

1928: Prior to kickoff Tennessee coach Bob Neyland suggested to Bama counterpart Wallace Wade that the clock run continuously in the third and fourth quarters to shorten what projected to be a lopsided Tide win in Tuscaloosa. Gene McEver returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, however, spurring Tennessee to a 15-13 victory.

1932: Tennessee's Beattie Feathers (48.0-yard average on 21 punts) and Alabama's John Cain (48.1 average on 19 punts) put on an unforgettable kicking exhibition in the mud at Birmingham. Although Bama led 3-0 at the half, Neyland assured his team that the Tide would be conservative in protecting its lead, enabling the Volunteers to come from behind and win. Sure enough, Cain made a bad punt in the fourth quarter and the Vols converted the favorable field position into a touchdown and a 7-3 win.

1939: Arguably the most famous run in Tennessee history - Johnny Butler's serpentine 56-yard ramble on which he twice reversed his field - highlighted a 21-0 Vol victory in Knoxville. That '39 Volunteer squad would be the last in NCAA history to go through an entire regular season without surrendering a point.

1946: All-America defensive tackle Dick Huffman battered Tide quarterback Harry Gilmer so severely in a 12-0 Volunteer victory at Knoxville that appreciative Tennessee fans gave Gilmer an ovation as he limped to the sidelines for the final time near game's end.

1948: Instead of bringing in a sacrificial lamb, Tennessee hosted Bama on its Homecoming weekend. The Volunteers won, 21-6.

1950: Down 9-7 late, Tennessee drove 76 yards and Andy Kozar scored the winning touchdown in the final minutes for a 14-9 victory at Knoxville.

1951: The first Tennessee game ever to be televised - a Birmingham CBS affiliate did the honors - saw the Vols prevail 27-13 en route to a 10-0 regular-season record and the national title.

1957: As game day approached an Alabama scout noticed that Vol guard Bill Johnson was tipping off plays with the alignment of his feet. The Tide's edge was lost, however, when Johnson injured his ankle two days before the game and didn't play. Tennessee won, 14-0.

1959: Bama's Fred Sington missed a 31-yard field goal on the game's next-to-last play, enabling Tennessee to slip out of Legion Field with a 7-7 tie.

1965: Alabama quarterback Kenny Stabler scrambled 14 yards to the Vol 4-yard line in the final seconds of a 7-7 tie at Legion Field. Thinking it was third down, he took the ensuing snap and threw the ball out of bounds to stop the clock with six seconds left so David Ray could kick the game-winning field goal. Unfortunately for Stabler, his throw-away occurred on fourth down, giving Tennessee the football and preserving the tie.

1966: Tennessee's Gary Wright missed a 20-yard field goal on the game's next-to-last play, sealing third-ranked Alabama's 11-10 win at Knoxville. The unfortunate Vol kicker would be known as "Wide" Wright thereafter.

1967: With quarterbacks Charlie Fulton and Dewey Warren injured, third-stringer Bubba Wyche engineered a 24-13 Vol victory in Birmingham that snapped a 25-game Alabama unbeaten streak. Tennessee defensive back Albert Dorsey celebrated his birthday by intercepting three passes.

1970: Bill Battle was only 29 years old and in his fifth game as a head man when he faced his former coach, Bama legend Bear Bryant. Tennessee's 24-0 romp in Neyland Stadium helped spur the Vols to an 11-1 finish and No. 4 national ranking. Battle would never beat Alabama again, losing all six subsequent meetings.

1972: Dominated for 59 minutes, third-ranked Alabama struck for two touchdowns in the game's final 36 seconds to hand 10th-ranked Tennessee a 17-10 setback in Knoxville that ranks among the most gut-wrenching losses in Big Orange history.

1982: After 11 consecutive losses to Alabama, Mike Terry intercepted a Walter Lewis pass in the end zone with 17 seconds left to seal Tennessee's stunning 35-28 upset of the second-ranked Tide. Incredibly, that '82 Vol squad would lose to Vanderbilt and limp home with a 6-5-1 record.

1983: Johnnie Jones bolted 66 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that snapped a 34-34 tie and gave unranked Tennessee a dramatic 41-34 upset of the No. 11 Tide in Birmingham.

1985: Tennessee quarterback Tony Robinson suffered a torn ACL, forcing career backup Daryl Dickey to take the controls. With Bama down 16-14 but driving for the apparent go-ahead score late in the game, blitzing linebacker Dale Jones saved the day by leaping high to bat a Mike Shula pass, then somehow intercept the ball on his way to the turf.

1986: Bama tailback Bobby Humphrey put on a spectacular show, rushing for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries as the Tide rolled 56-28 at Neyland Stadium.

1990: Tennessee's Greg Burke, who had made a 51-yard field goal earlier in the game, had a 50-yarder blocked with 1:35 left in a 6-6 tie at Knoxville. The ball rolled so far into Vol territory that Bama's Phillip Doyle was able to boot a game-winning 48-yard field goal for a 9-6 victory.

1993: Trailing 17-9 late, Jay Barker led Bama 80 yards to a touchdown and scatback David Palmer scored a two-point conversion on a sweep with 21 seconds left to give the Tide a dramatic 17-17 tie in Birmingham. Alabama subsequently forfeited the game, however, for using an ineligible player.

1995: Peyton Manning and Joey Kent combined for an 80-yard touchdown hookup on the game's opening play and Tennessee posted its first win vs. Bama in 10 years with an emphatic 41-14 romp at Legion Field.

1996: With No. 6 Tennessee and No. 7 Alabama tied 13-13 late in the fourth quarter, Vol tailback Jay Graham rambled 79 yards for a touchdown that produced a dramatic 20-13 triumph.

1998: Peerless Price's 100-yard kickoff return transformed a tentative 14-11 fourth-quarter lead into a 35-18 Volunteer romp on Tennessee's march to the '98 national title.

2003: Casey Clausen guided Tennessee 86 yards in the final two minutes to forge a 20-20 regulation tie, then the Vols scored touchdowns on four of five subsequent possessions to prevail 51-43 in five overtimes at Tuscaloosa.

2005: Tennessee coughed up two fumbles inside Bama's 10-yard line, and Jamie Christensen booted a 34-yard field goal with 13 seconds left to give No. 5 Alabama a 6-3 defeat of Tennessee in Tuscaloosa.

2009: Tennessee was a 44-yard field goal away from posting a 13-12 upset of the top-ranked Tide but Terrence Cody blocked Daniel Lincoln's kick on the game's final play to preserve a heart-stopping 12-10 Bama victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Post Scipt: The Tennessee-Alabama series has been punctuated by several dominating stretches on each side. For instance:

- Alabama won seven consecutive meetings between 1905 and 1913.

- The Vols went 9-1-3 vs. the Crimson Tide between 1948 and '60.

- Tennessee shut out Alabama five times in six years during the 1950s - winning 20-0 in 1952, playing a 0-0 tie in '53, losing 27-0 in '54, winning 20-0 in '55, winning 24-0 in '56 and 14-0 in '57.

- The Tide went 5-0-1 vs. the Vols between 1961 and '66.

- Tennessee swept four straight games from 1967-70.

- Alabama won 11 consecutive meetings between 1971 and 1981.

-Tennessee fashioned a four-game winning streak from 1982 through '85.

- Bama went 8-0-1 between 1986 and 1994, although the 17-17 tie at Birmingham in '93 subsequently was forfeited due to NCAA sanctions.

- Tennessee won nine of 10 meetings between 1995 and 2004.

NOTE: "Vol historian" Tom Mattingly and sports writing legend Ben Byrd contributed significantly to this article.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories