The annual SEC football rivalry between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers is known as the Third Saturday in October.
One of the most well-known rivalries in the SEC football landscape is the one between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers: The Third Saturday in October.
Historically, this is considered to be the biggest rivalry Tennessee plays ever year. Outside of the Iron Bowl with in-state rival Auburn, this one is right up there with Alabama. However, Tennessee’s decade-plus slide of late has led this rivalry to be replaced by the one with LSU as Alabama’s second-most important game on the schedule each season after the Iron Bowl.
Here are some very important things to know about this historic football rivalry existing between the Crimson Tide and the Volunteers down south.
Third Saturday in October: Series history
Through the 2020 college season, this game has been played 103 times. It has been an annually occurring rivalry pretty much since 1928 when Tennessee head coach Robert Neyland began scheduling it on its “traditional” date and the rivalry’s namesake. The name this rivalry is known as was adopted in 1939. It has been played in three cities: Birmingham, Knoxville and Tuscaloosa.
The first six installments of this rivalry game were played in Birmingham. While there were a few Alabama home games played at Tuscaloosa played in the early 1900s, their “home games” were played in Birmingham from 1932 to 1997. Despite being a primary factor in cross-divisional rivalries being a thing in SEC play since 1992, Alabama and Tennessee have never met in Atlanta.
Third Saturday in October: Victory cigars
One of the coolest parts of this rivalry series has to be the victory cigars. This tradition dates back to the 1950s when Alabama athletic trainer Jim Goostree started handing out cigars after a win over the Vols. Both teams kept this tradition alive in secret because the NCAA was not down with promoting tobacco products to its student-athletes. Alabama brought it back publicly in 2005.
With the victory cigars being in the public eye for the better part of this century, the winner of the Third Saturday in October reports the violation to the NCAA and willingly pays the fine to keep the tradition alive. Interestingly enough, only once since 2005 have the Volunteers celebrated a victory in the Third Saturday in October with a cigar. They have lost 14 games in a row heading into 2021.
Third Saturday in October: Longest streaks for each team
The other interesting caveat to this rivalry series is the lengthy winning streaks that exist on both sides historically. Alabama won seven in a row from 1905 to 1913 to set the tone for this rivalry series. The Crimson Tide have also had a nine-game unbeaten streak from 1986 to 1994, an 11-game winning streak from 1971 to 1981 and a series-best 14-game winning streak still going on.
Tennessee also has several winning streaks historically over the Crimson Tide, albeit not as long. The Vols’ longest winning streak over Alabama was a seven-game one from 1995 to 2001. They are the only college football program to have ever beaten Alabama seven times in a row at any given point in time.
Third Saturday in October: Series record
Entering the 2021 game, Alabama holds the all-time series record over Tennessee at 57-38-8.
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