The Third Saturday in October rivalry could be renewed on the first Saturday in December, according to one college football analyst.
ESPN expert Kirk Herbstreit told The Paul Finebaum Show that Alabama and Tennessee could see each other again in the 2016 SEC Championship game.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) June 10, 2016
Herbstreit’s theory isn’t too far-fetched, but could it really happen? The Crimson Tide are the defending national champions and have shown the ability to reload better than any program in the country. But, Alabama will have to find a new quarterback again and won’t have Heisman Trophy tailback Derrick Henry moving the chains.
Alabama will also have to get through an SEC West that features an abundantly talented LSU team and a competitive Ole Miss team with arguably the conference’s best passer. The Crimson Tide must travel to Baton Rouge, La., and Oxford, Miss., along with road trips to Arkansas and Tennessee.
The Vols on the other hand have the easier path through the SEC East and have a ton of returning talent, including quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. The Vols will face an early test from Virginia Tech (at Bristol Motor Speedway), plus meetings with Florida, UGA and Texas A&M before its annual showdown with the Tide. If the Volunteers can get through that stretch unscathed, they could have a great shot at an undefeated season with SEC East bottom-feeders South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt all awaiting the Vols after the bye week.
Herbstreit’s scenario would also be historic if it came true. Alabama and Tennessee have never played each other in the SEC title game. It would also be Tennessee’s first appearance in the SEC Championship since 2007, while the Tide have won three of the last four games.
A lot will need to happen for Herbstreit’s subtle prediction to happen. But, don’t rule out a rematch between these rivals a bit later in the year.