Despite the heated in-state rivalry with Auburn, Bear Bryant was more adamant about defeating his rivals to the north, the Tennessee Volunteers .  The series is named the Third Saturday in October , the traditional calendar date on which the game was played. Despite the name, the game has only been played on the third Saturday five times between 1995–2007. The first game between the two sides was played in 1901 in Birmingham, ending in a 6–6 tie. From 1902 to 1913, Alabama dominated the series, only losing once, and never allowing a touchdown by the Volunteers. Beginning in 1928, the rivalry was first played on its traditional date and began to be a challenge for the Crimson Tide as Robert Neyland began challenging Alabama for their perennial spot on top of the conference standings.  In the 1950s, Jim Goostree, the head trainer for Alabama, began another tradition as he began handing out cigars following a victory over the Volunteers. 
Prior to National Signing Day on February 1, 2012, six high school players that graduated early and two junior college transfers of the 2012 recruiting class enrolled for the spring semester in order to participate in spring practice.  These early enrollments included: defensive lineman Ryan Anderson, wide receivers Chris Black and Amari Cooper , linebacker Dillon Lee, defensive tackle Alphonse Taylor and running back T. J. Yeldon from high school and defensive backs Deion Belue and Travell Dixon from junior college.  On February 1, seventeen additional players signed their National Letter of Intent to play at Alabama that completed the 2012 recruiting class.