(2) Alabama - 29, Tennessee - 9
By Beth Rucker - AP Sports Writer
October 26, 2008
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Nick Saban has turned the “Third Saturday in
October” rivalry back to Alabama’s favor, and left Phillip Fulmer
with yet another ugly loss to explain to Tennessee’s many disgruntled
Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson
The second-ranked Crimson Tide cruised to a 29-9 win over the
Volunteers on Saturday night for its first back-to-back victories
“This is a great rivalry with great tradition with two outstanding
universities, and I’m really proud of the way our players played,”
While Alabama (8-0, 5-0, Southeastern Conference) remained in the
heart of the national championship race, Tennessee’s season grew
sorrier. A lopsided loss to a bitter rival will only increase the
pressure on Fulmer, who’s been a prime target for critics and
disgruntled Vols fans this season.
This was a rivalry he dominated early in his career, winning seven
straight 1995-2001. Alabama has won three out of the last four
contests, and Saban owns a 4-1 record against the Vols (3-5, 1-4).
“It’s just a special rivalry and a special game to all of us involved
in it in different ways. I’ll be back up tomorrow. I’m not down. I
just got a lot on my mind right now,” Fulmer said.
Alabama, the SEC’s best rushing team, went to the air in the first
half, gaining 117 yards compared to 32 on the ground.
Alabama started its final first-half drive on the Tennessee 34 after
Daniel Lincoln missed a 51-yard field goal attempt. John Parker
Wilson didn’t miss on the drive, completing passes of 19 and 35 yards
to Julio Jones and a 4-yarder to Glen Coffee.
On fourth-and-1 at the 3, Coffee punched the ball into the end zone
to give the Crimson Tide a 13-3 lead with 2:41 before halftime.
Alabama is 5-for-5 on fourth down attempts this season.
Tennessee drove to the Alabama 14, but back-to-back penalties for
illegal formation and pass interference pushed the Vols back 20
yards, and Lincoln missed a 43-yard field goal attempt to close the
“Them missing a field goal before the half was a real momentum thing,”
After that, it was all Alabama for two quarters as the trademark Tide
rushing game returned.
Roy Upchurch ran 35 yards of a 79-yard drive before Wilson drove the
ball 1-yard for a touchdown to put Alabama up 22-3 with 6:25 in the
third quarter. Wilson missed a 2-point conversion pass to Nick Walker.
Upchurch ran for much of the subsequent Crimson Tide drive and scored
on a 4-yard run to make it a 29-3 game with 9:43 left. He finished
with 86 yards rushing.
Alabama outgained Tennessee 366-173, and finished with 178 yards
rushing. Jones caught six passes for a career-high 103 yards, and
Wilson finished 17-for-24 for 188 yards.
The Vols’ defense gave Tennessee plenty of chances to stay in the
game, limiting Alabama to its lowest first-quarter score of the
season with six points. The Crimson Tide has outscored opponents
101-6 in the first 15 minutes.
Tennessee stopped Alabama twice just outside the red zone and once
inside. Leigh Tiffin kicked field goals of 39, 43 and 30 yards.
“We didn’t start off the way we’ve been starting off,” Wilson said.
“We kind of got behind and had to come back and score in the second
half, and I think we did a really good job.”
But the Vols struggled to put together drives, reverting back to the
inept offense which has plagued them much of the season. Tennessee
went three-and-out seven times in 11 drives and missed two field goal
The closest Tennessee got to the end zone in the first half was when
Dennis Rogan recovered Javier Arenas’ fumbled punt return at the
Alabama 5, but the Vols went backward 9 yards on the drive. Daniel
Lincoln kicked a 31-yard field goal to tied the game at 3 with 6:28
in the first quarter.
Two Alabama pass interference penalties kept a Tennessee drive alive
in the fourth quarter, and Nick Stephens found Josh Briscoe on a
10-yard pass to make it 29-9 with 7:26 left, well after the game was
already out of reach.
Stephens finished 16-for-28 for 137 yards.
“I felt like we had every chance in the world coming into the second
half the way our defense was playing. We stopped ourselves like we
have in past weeks,” Stephens said.