Bryce Young Alabama football

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was 5 the last time the Tide lost to Tennessee. "It’s something you don’t take lightly," he said. [KENT GIDLEY/ALABAMA ATHLETICS]

Tennessee hasn't defeated Alabama in football since 2006, when Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young was 5. But the historic nature of the rivalry, and the importance of winning this game, is still passed down to Alabama's players.

Young said he's learned a lot about it since coming to Alabama from California, mainly because he's around people who have been involved in it in past years.

“I definitely have learned how much it means to our alumni, our fan base, everyone," Young said. “It’s something you don’t take lightly. It’s a rivalry.”

Alabama safety Jordan Battle also mentioned the alumni when asked about what stands out about Alabama vs. Tennessee.

“We know how rich in history this rivalry game is,” Battle said. “We just hope to give the fans what they want to see.”

The No. 4 Crimson Tide (6-1) will face the Volunteers (4-3) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

The matchup will be Alabama's first against a Tennessee team coached by former Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel.

“It's kind of just different when it's Tennessee week and the rivalry. I kind of understand the importance of it to fans and the importance of it to the team,” wide receiver John Metchie III said.

This will also be Crimson Tide linebacker Henry To'o To'o's first chance to face his former team after he transferred to Alabama this past offseason.

The fact it's being played as Alabama's homecoming game with alumni coming back to Tuscaloosa only amplifies that.

“I think the rivalry between Tennessee and Alabama is one of the old great rivalries in college football. It goes way back,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I know it means a lot to a lot of people in our state. It certainly means a lot to me, and hopefully we'll get that translated to our team.”

Alabama inside linebacker Christian Harris acknowledged fans' intense interest in the rivalry.

“Just how bought in the fans are to it, it really makes it even more exciting for us to go out there and play the game,” Harris said.

The Tide's recent success in the rivalry is well documented. Alabama has won 14 consecutive games against Tennessee, all but two by at least 14 points and many by more than that. 

But Tennessee has shown life in recent weeks. The Vols are coming off an emotional Saturday in which they nearly upset Ole Miss. That followed convincing wins over Missouri and South Carolina.

“I know those games on Saturdays, especially against Tennessee, with a big rivalry, it really doesn't matter what you did the week before or what they did,” Harris said. “It's a whole different type of energy on this night. We've got to be prepared for it.”

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