Alabama-Tennessee game has as much meaning as ever Print
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Thursday, 23 October 2008 21:14
NCAAF Headline News

 KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -John Parker Wilson isn't expecting to have quite as good a day on Saturday against Tennessee as he had last year.
``We were able to put up a lot of points,'' Alabama's quarterback said. ``We know that this year is going to be different. They are really good on defense.''
Wilson had a field day in the 41-17 win, throwing for a career-high 363 yards and three touchdowns and tying the school's single-game record of 32 completions. DJ Hall had a school-record 13 catches for 185 yards, and the defense pitched a second-half shutout.
It's not a day the Volunteers (3-4, 1-3 SEC) have forgotten, and they're hoping for a bit of sweet revenge against No. 2 Alabama (7-0, 4-0) on Saturday night.
forward to get some payback.''
The annual ``Third Saturday in October'' matchup has carried a lot of meaning in recent years, but it's just as important as ever.
Tennessee hasn't beaten a ranked opponent or held a winning record this season, putting coach Phillip Fulmer as close to the hot seat as he's ever been. A win over Alabama would make quite the statement to Vols fans and Fulmer's bosses. So would a loss.
It's also an important game for the Crimson Tide, which is fighting to remain the only SEC team in contention for the national championship.
If all of that isn't enough pressure on the long-running rivalry game, consider the recent history: Alabama and Tennessee have alternated wins in the last four games in this usually streaky series, and the Tide embarrassed the Vols last season in Tuscaloosa but hasn't won back-to-back games since 1991-92.
``It's a big game and it's definitely a big game for us. We know that and they know that,'' Wilson said. ``It puts a bigger price on everything.''
Berry said last year's game was the defensive backs' lowest point in a season during which they struggled often. He's certainly made strides since then.
Last week against Mississippi State, Berry set the SEC career record for interception return yards with 397. He also leads the Football Bowl Subdivision with five picks this season.
n he threw 12 interceptions. This year he's only given up three.
The real battle in the game will come at the line of scrimmage. Alabama's offensive linemen average 308 pounds and have been the key in Alabama's wildly successful running game, which leads the SEC with an average 209.3 yards and 15 total touchdowns.
The Vols' D-line is coming off a strong performance against Mississippi State and has allowed only two touchdowns on the ground this season.
``I told these guys not to take away anything from what we've played against, but (Alabama) is the best offensive line we've played against in a long time,'' defensive line coach Dan Brooks said.
On the flip side, the Crimson Tide will be without Mount Cody - as in Terrence Cody, the imposing 6-foot-5, 365-pound nose guard, who is expected to miss at least the next two games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
That doesn't make Alabama's defensive line any less scary. Cody's replacement, Josh Chapman, a 6-1, 305-pound sophomore, has played plenty of snaps, and Tide coaches and players say he's as strong as anyone on the team.
``He plays with strength. He plays with power. He plays run blocks very well. He is a true nose guard for what we want and he has played all year,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
tting only a single yard the week before against Georgia.
With the inconsistency on the ground and youth at quarterback - Nick Stephens, a sophomore, is starting only his fourth game - Fulmer knows there's no pounding it out against the Tide.
``In this ball game, we'll have to have a wide receiver somewhere make a play for us, or a tailback make a play for us,'' he said.
 

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