Alabama Football: What is special about the first Saturday in October

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football: Each season, SEC teams reveal themselves in October. That will happen this Saturday.

For fans of Alabama football and other SEC schools, this fall is like none other. With the delayed schedule, this October will be different and perhaps even more appreciated than a normal year. Despite COVID, there is still college football and it offers excitement and joy.

Alabama football fans know about special Saturdays in October. For decades the most special Saturday was the third when the Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers would battle. As the SEC has grown, and schedules have evolved, the game is held on the third or fourth Saturday.

A bit of Tennessee and Alabama football history – legendary Tennessee football coach, Robert Neyland said, “you never know what a football player is made of until he plays Alabama.” Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant felt the same way about Tennessee.

SEC football fans, not just followers of the Crimson Tide and the Vols have reasons for October being special. For much of the conference, ‘football weather’ does not arrive before October. As the leaves turn, the crispness in the air gives SEC football a familiar aura.

There are other, more concrete reasons why October is so important. In a normal year, most September games are non-conference matchups. In October, SEC teams define themselves. A few will win their way into championship contention. More will slide into the goal of a respectable bowl game. The all-conference schedule affords no easy non-conference wins. In week two of the SEC season and the first Saturday in October, game outcomes can pivot a season.

No team wants to go 0-2. LSU, Missouri, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Arkansas face that challenge Saturday. It is difficult to expect Vandy will give LSU much of a challenge. Two touchdown (or more) favorites, Tennessee, Florida, and Mississippi State, like Alabama football, are poised to go 2-0.

Georgia hosting Auburn and Ole Miss at Kentucky are expected to be the closest games. Even though it is only the first Saturday in October, none of the four teams can much afford to lose. False dreams aside, 0-2 for either Kentucky or Ole Miss will make the loser an early also-ran.

Georgia and Auburn can come back from a Saturday loss, but the loser will have no room to slip up again. Losses by Missouri and Arkansas will not shorten new coach honeymoons. A couple of more early losses and Will Muschamp may not survive the season. Vandy’s Derek Mason is forever in need of a win, any win.

What about the Crimson Tide and the Aggies? The game is big for both. A win for Jimbo would be huge. Like Georgia and Auburn, the Crimson Tide could sustain a loss with championship goals intact.

Bigger games will follow the first Saturday in October. Team goals will be achieved and denied as the schedule moves through October and November and into December. Along the way, as never before, every one of the league’s ten regular-season games will be important.

Next. SEC Football Week 4 Power Rankings. dark

Eight SEC football teams are in the current AP Poll Top 25. The rankings are somewhat different but the Coaches Poll also has eight SEC teams in its Top 25. At least a couple of those teams will slide due to the demanding all-conference schedule.