Since I became a Tennessee fan in the early 1960s, I have had very few happy "Third Saturdays in October." In fact, since 1960, Alabama has won 36 times, Tennessee 18 times, with three ties. In other words Tide fans have many more happy "Third Saturdays" than Vol fans have. In fact they've suffered for 13 straight years. I have five grandchildren and none of them were alive the last time the Vols beat 'Bama back in 2006, 16-13. On Saturday the two long-time SEC rivals meet once again and the Crimson Tide is a huge favorite.
Just last year Tennessee gave Alabama all they wanted and more but lost 35-13. The game was a lot closer than the score would indicate but when quarterback Jarrett Guarantano fumbled on a quarterback sneak on the 'Bama goal line, and watched the Tide scoop it and score from 99 yards away, that was a 14-point turnaround.
Which brings up a point I brought up earlier this week. Jarrett Guarantano is an inconsistent quarterback. Even though the Vols won their final six games of the year in 2019, Guarantano was less than stellar, coming off the bench in a couple of those wins. But last week against Kentucky Guarantano was as bad as he's ever been in that terrible 34-7 loss to the Wildcats.
Tennessee is not going to win an SEC Championship this year, so true freshman Harrison Bailey should get the nod as the Vols starting quarterback the rest of the way, much as Peyton Manning did in 1994 when he came off the bench after Jerry Colquitt and Todd Helton were injured. The rest, as they say is history. Manning led Tennessee to the Gator Bowl that year and never looked back as the Vols were knee deep in their best stretch in school history. That stretch included three wins over Alabama in Peyton's time as part of seven straight happy "Third Saturdays in October" - the Vols longest win streak ever over the Tide.
Then there's the cigar thing. It's long been a tradition for decades for the winning team to celebrate with stogies following the victory. For 13 consecutive years Alabama has smoked cigars after the win, while the Volunteers showered and left the stadium. I always wondered..... what happened to the cigars that Tennessee hasn't used for the last 13 years? Were cigars purchased for just one team, with the winner getting to smoke them or did both teams have them ready to light with only the winning team allowed to smoke them?
There is also this observation: For the last three seasons, former Tennessee Coach Butch Jones, a "special assistant" to 'Bama coach Nick Saban, always looks like a 13-year-old kid smoking a stogie for the first time in his life. Vols fans are hoping he still gets sick.
Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com