After a 42-10 win over Missouri on Saturday, the AP's unanimous No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide improved to 6-0, a feat they have accomplished four out of the last five seasons.
The Alabama-Tennessee rivalry has been well-documented throughout the years, and as Alabama head coach Nick Saban stated, these games are about much more than just the win-loss column.
"Games like this are more about the rivalry and less about people's record," Saban said. "Tennessee has a really good offensive team. It's always a challenge to play on the road. They are a very well-coached team. Derek (Dooley) has done a good job there. This game means a lot to a lot of people. Certainly it means a lot to me and to us. I think our players will work hard this week to get ready to play the best football."
Alabama comes into this game with the best defense in the nation statistically. They are only allowing 7.5 points a game (which is the best in the nation) while also allowing 55.3 rushing yards per game and 125.8 passing yards per game (both are also the best in the nation). They'll match up against a Tennessee team that ranks 22nd in total offense with 482.3 yards per game.
Saban said his defense has played well to this point but they will be challenged like never before.
"Well it's been a hard-working group, and they've had a really good attitude about what they want to try to do. I still think there are a lot of areas that we need to improve on," Saban said. "We're going to be challenged in a way that we've never been challenged by the quality of offensive team that we're playing this week and their capabilities in the passing game as well as the balance they have in running the ball, so we're going to need to continue to improve. They're going to need to continue to improve and play well as a group to be able to have success against this kind of offensive team."
The Tide's junior running back Eddie Lacy, the team's leader in both rushing yards (491) and touchdowns (7), has been a key focal point in Alabama's offense this year. He is not the only breakout Tide running back this season, however, as freshman T.J. Yeldon has emerged on the scene as one of the nation's premier playmakers rushing for 436 yards on 68 carries (6.4 yards a carry).
"I don't even know how to explain it," Lacy said. "He is a freshman, but he is great. He is able to go out and make the same big plays that any running back could do. For him to be able to do that, being so young, that's great."
Alabama's rushing attack isn't the only one that could have an effect on Saturday's game. Alabama senior defensive back Robert Lester said that Tennessee's ability to run the ball will have a major impact on the outcome of the game.
"I know that they are going to try and run the ball on us," Lester said. "If they can establish the run, then they will have a lot of success."
The game will be aired on ESPN with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.