Darrington Sentimore added fuel to the fire this week.
"I want this game more than any other game because I want to beat Saban," he said.
"I won't lie to you. I kind of regret going to Alabama."
The No. 1 team in the country always has a target on its back and a player or two seems to trash talk the Tide every other week to get inside their heads. It hasn't worked, as the players are trained by Saban to ignore external factors, not to mention Bama is outscoring teams 243-45 this season.
But Sentimore's comments are different because of the deep rivalry between Alabama and Tennessee, and statements like his are what make this type of game extra juicy.
"This game is more about the rivalry and less about people's record," Saban said earlier this week. "This is a very challenging game for us. This game means a lot to our people."
The Crimson Tide leads the series with the Vols 48-38-7 and has won the last five matchups.
This week several players were asked what this rivalry means to them. Senior defensive end Damion Square, who's from Houston, Texas, didn't grow up watching the Alabama-Tennessee game—he was surrounded by Texas Exes and Aggies—but he sure learned of its importance when he came to college.
"I got the fever when I arrived," he said. "Over these five years, it's grown on me and now I'm just like anybody that's been an Alabama fan for 60 years."
Sophomore linebacker Trey DePriest is from Springfield, Ohio and grew up knowing more about the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. Now that he's been in Tuscaloosa for two years, this game means more to him than the one up north.
"It's kind of grown on me," he said. "Last year, I didn't know. I thought it was always Alabama-Auburn. But a lot of the older fans take this game real seriously. I try to please the fans as much as possible, so it definitely means a lot."
"That really set the tone for me," he said.
Neyland Stadium is one of the nation's largest football venues, holding 102,455 rowdy fans. Junior right tackle D.J. Fluker said that he loves playing in a crazy place like that.
"That kind of feeds me a little bit," he said. "[Offensive line coach Jeff] Stoutland says think of you being a rock star out there. That makes it fun for me."
The game means a little something different to Cyrus Kouandjio. The sophomore left tackle tore his ACL in last year's game against UT.
"When I got hurt was almost exactly a year ago," he said. "It was tough. To rehab every day—I didn't know it was going to be as hard. When you get hurt, it's not a joke because it's tough to get back. I'm still kind of hurting a little bit, but I'm just ready to go out there and play, you know?
"I'm ready to go out there and have fun."
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