Perhaps I’m the only one, but I’m not already counting the Tennessee game this weekend as a win.
This year, the Volunteers are 2-4 overall, 0-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Compare that to Alabama’s near perfect 6-1, 3-1 SEC record, and it seems like a no-brainer that the Crimson Tide will dominate.
But think about last year. Then, Alabama was at a perfect 7-0 hosting the 3-3 Vols. It was another case in which Alabama clearly had the advantage on paper. However, quarterback Greg McElroy averaged just over 4 yards per throw, while running back Mark Ingram only ran for 99 yards.
The offense struggled all game, evident by the 12-10 score. Special teams took care of all the scoring with four field goals.
In the last few seconds of the game, Terrence “Mount” Cody saved the perfect season with a block that came to be known as both “Rocky Block” and “Rocky Stop.”
It was week eight in college football, and Alabama needed a break; Tennessee had just had its break. The Tide hung on, literally, by the tips of Cody’s fingers, barely staying perfect.
The scenario for this upcoming game is similar. Both teams have one more loss than in their meeting last year, but it’s the week before Alabama’s off week and the week after Tennessee’s.
And never discount the fact that it’s a rivalry game. Some people say they hate Tennessee more than Auburn. The Vols feel the rivalry, too, and they play up to it almost every year that they’re down.
True, they almost lost to UAB at home, but the next week they went to Baton Rogue, almost beating LSU on the road. They won’t just roll over and die, despite what Alabama fans might want.
Don’t get me wrong. I want Alabama to crush them. I’m among those fans who can’t stand that ugly orange color. I hate the song “Rocky Top” with a passion. So do I want to win? Of course.
And should we win? Of course.
But that doesn’t automatically mean we will win. It’s another SEC road test for the Tide. The team has to put together 60 minutes of outstanding play, which I haven’t seen since the SEC Championship game last year. And furthermore, they have to do it on the road, which hasn’t gone according to plan since playing Mississippi State in November 2009.
There’s just one more week until Alabama can take a mostly well-deserved break. The national championship and SEC championship dreams are still alive. It’s one game at a time.
So this year, even though there isn’t a mountain around to block a potential game-winning field goal, this team has other assets. It’s time to put together a perfect 60-minute game. It’s time to punch a team in the mouth and win the whole game on both sides.
It’s time to really play some Alabama football.