You could forgive Alabama football players if they weren't quite as motivated as most are for a rivalry game, heading into a showdown with Tennessee. If there was a motivation gap, though, Vols players are apparently happy to get their Crimson Tide counterparts fired up.
Tennessee is coming off of its biggest win of the season, over Mississippi State. It was a nice step forward for a group that started its season with a loss to Sun Belt also-ran Georgia State.
Still, that shouldn't be enough to then jump in on antagonizing Alabama. And yet, we have some Tennessee players have reportedly questioned Alabama's national championship bona fides.
That is pretty ridiculous, given all of the recent rings the Crimson Tide have racked up, but ESPN's Molly McGrath says its the case.
She is part of the broadcast team for Saturday's Alabama-Tennessee game, but took a trip out West first for last night's UCLA win over Stanford. During the game, she mentioned that conversation she had with Vols players.
She didn't specify who said it, but it sounds like that may come during Saturday's game itself.
Don't expect similar things coming from the always-focused Crimson Tide. Per Saturday Down South, Nick Saban is back pounding the "rat poison" drum to keep his team focused ahead of what should be a very overmatched opponent.
“I spoke with Tua Tagovailoa the other day and Nick Saban has brought back the ‘rat poison’ comparisons so he’s keeping his team on top of it, they are not underestimating this opponent,” McGrath said on the air.
Jeremy Pruitt, a former Alabama defensive coordinator under Saban, also isn't downplaying the Tide. During the week he joked that he'd employ the "never punt and always onside kick" strategy famously employed by Arkansas high school powerhouse Pulaski Academy to upset Alabama, clearly expressing his respect for how powerful this year's team is.
As the SDS article shows, Vols fans are openly questioning McGrath's report. It sure sounds like we'll find out more on Saturday. Hopefully for Tennessee, that info doesn't come with the game already out of hand.
Alabama is a 34.5 point favorite entering the game.