The Third Saturday Of October Means The Alabama-Tennessee Game
Paul “Bear” Bryant was taking slow, long strides off the Neyland Stadium field when one of the few UT fans left in the stands yelled down at the legendary coach.
Bryant’s Alabama team had just scored two touchdowns in the final minute – aided by a fumble from UT’s Condredge Holloway – to defeat the stunned Vols. The spectator, who had no doubt been carrying on the Tennessee game-day tradition of enjoying a few Jack & Cokes, leaned over the railing and said, “Bear, you may be the greatest coach of all time, but you’re also one lucky son-of-a-bitch!”
Bear stopped, looked up at the fan, tipped his hat and replied, “sir, you’re right on both accounts.”
Bryant then went into the Alabama locker room and, in the tradition he started, passed out cigars to his players and staff and that familiar smell when Alabama plays Tennessee swirled around Neyland Stadium.
It’s the Third Saturday of October and that means Alabama-Tennessee, one of the South’s most traditional rivalries. This year, it its also Michigan-Michigan State, which means for some teams, it’s an early Rivalry Week in college football.
And, as Halloween approaches, it’s a potential Death Saturday for teams in the two Death Valleys, a possible final resting place in Oxford for a near-dead program and a it could be a scary Saturday for some Nuts from Ohio in a small Indiana town.
All times Pacific because The Prognosticator lives on the West Coast.
Michigan State at Michigan (9 a.m., FOX)
Sparty came to life in Happy Valley last week and is now looking to suck the life out of the Big House. This will be a day for the defenses and the one team that can bring its offense to life even for brief moments is the one that will survive this one. Winner: Michigan
Oklahoma at TCU (9 a.m., ABC)
This matchup had the schedule-makers at ABC salivating when it was first announced but now, with the Sooners having gone boomer-less in the Red River Rivalry and the Toads getting licked nearly every time they step on the field, it has all the early-morning appeal as a cold slice of pizza. And no matter how you slice it, this won’t heat up the College Playoff Committee. Winner: Oklahoma
Auburn at Ole Miss (9 a.m., ESPN)
The Gus Bus goes sputtering up to Oxford held together by duct tape. There’s rust in the floorboard and the thing is about to cave in, despite a $49-million contract last year to polish it up and make it run like it’s 2010. The problem, you see, is that Cam Newton isn’t driving the bus any more and the Gus Bus can’t run right without a dynamic driver behind the wheel. Otherwise, the wheels come off, and were it not for the generosity of the host Hottie Toddies, then it would have be towed back to the Plains. Winner: Auburn
Alabama at Tennessee (12:30 p.m., CBS)
The Rocky Top’ers are on top of the mountain – certainly not the world – after their win on the Plains, and they don’t want the visitors from Tuscaloosa coming in and stinking up the joint with the smell of cigars. The Pachyderms are limping a bit with the Tsunami Tua slightly injured but they can still put quite a Hurts on an opponent. When this one is over, the smoke will not have cleared out of Neyland Stadium but will be billowing out of the visitor’s locker room once again. Winner: Alabama
N.C. State at Clemson (12:30 p.m, ABC)
The Wolfpack are like a pretty girl who flirts with you right up until the very end, then leaves you sitting alone slamming your fist against the bar. They take you tantalizing close to the brink of an upset, then miss a short field goal, drop a pass or otherwise make a miscue that lets the favorite slip out the back door. The Teasers will tease again and the Tigers may feel close to death in this Death Valley but the felines will escape with one of their nine lives. Winner: Clemson
Mississippi State at LSU (4 p.m., ESPN)
In the other Death Valley, another group of felines was brought back to life last week against the Dawgs and now faces another type of Bulldogs. The Cats from Baton Rouge were pretty cool under pressure last week but things can get hot in a hurry for the Coach O’s if they don’t also tame these dogs. Winner: LSU
Ohio State at Purdue (4:30 p.m., ABC)
There’s just enough life in Boilermakers to cause a train wreck for the Acorns, who have shown several signs of cracking this season but have yet to be crushed. Purdue has a history of being able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory – especially against Ohio State – and while this may be an intense one, the train tracks for an upset will once again lead to end of the tunnel and where it runs out of steam. Winner: Ohio State
Oregon at Washington State (4:30 p.m., FOX)
The Ducks are feeling pretty ducky after their win over Washington and now waddle into the remote confines of Pullman looking to make the pirates of Capt. Leach walk the plank in their home waters. The hosts have argggg-uably played one of the most watered-down schedule to date of any 5-1 team while the visitors are looking for a buried treasure known as the College Football Playoffs. They won’t find it in the upper reaches of Washington State but they will find enough nuggets to keep them on course. For now. Winner: Oregon
USC at Utah (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Two factors will help even out this game – the mismatch of talent between USC and Utah and the mismatch of coaching between Clay Helton and Kyle Whittingham. That will keep the game as tight as a lid on a pickle jar but the Helton Skelters will loosen it up just enough to escape with the win. Winner: USC
Arizona at UCLA (7:30 p.m., ESPN2)
The Trampolines have somewhat bounced back up off the mat and now they will really get a spring in their step when the Stumbling Sumlins come into the Rose Bowl. The visiting Cats have been declawed by their coach so bad they have gone from wild to barely even mild. This will be a chance for the Baby Bears to stand up and say “we’re back, baby!” Well, only for a game. Winner: UCLA
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