Alabama Football: 25 Greatest Games in the Saban Era

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October 20, 2007 – Alabama vs. Tennessee in Bryant-Denny

Context is important to understand how this game made our list. For many Alabama football fans any win over a Phil Fulmer coached Tennessee team is a great win. The 12 Tennessee games that preceded the 2007 contest had been a miserable run for the Crimson Tide. From 1995-2006, Alabama football beat Tennessee just twice.

The Arkansas win pushed the Tide back into ranked status at No. 16. Some added context – a No. 21 ranked Alabama football team lost to Northen Illinois in Tuscaloosa in September 2003. The Tide would remain unranked for the remainder of that season and all of 2004. The 2005 season provided a boost as the Tide won 10 games and finished No. 8. But respect for Alabama football was not restored. The Tide began the 2006 season unranked again and remained so until the 2007 Arkansas win.

The win over the Razorbacks was followed by an overtime loss to Georgia and a loss to FSU. Wins over Houston and Ole Miss did not push the Tide back into the Top 25. What had looked like a quick renewal under Nick Saban was then soberly seen as an arduous rebuilding task. A win against the No. 20 ranked Vols was a much-needed boost.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban started the game boldly with an onside kick. The ploy worked and it led to an early field goal by Leigh Tiffin. The game was close at halftime, 24-17 in favor of Alabama football.

In the second half, the Tide pulled away, shutting out the Vols. Freshman cornerback, Kareem Jackson was splendid with two interceptions and two pass-breakups. John Parker Wilson passed for 363 yards with 13 passes being caught by DJ Hall.

The 2007 win began the current streak of 11 wins (and counting) against the Volunteers. It was also the beginning of the end for Phil Fulmer who ended his coaching career after the 2008 season.

Final Score: Alabama 41 – Tennessee 17

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