2022 Third Saturday in October Alabama-Tennessee Game Makes Ratings History

Alabama-Tennessee makes ratings history in 2022

Getty Alabama and Tennessee made ratings history with their 2022 Third Saturday in October showdown on October 15 (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)

For many reasons, Saturday was a historic battle between Alabama and Tennessee — most notably, the game having the biggest audience for this rivalry game in records dating back to 1987, according to AL.com. The October 15 showdown was the most-watched game on CBS since Alabama-LSU in 2019 during Joe Burrow’s Heisman campaign. Viewership peaked at 17 million and the next most-watched game had half the average audience (11.56 million viewers) of 2022’s Third Saturday in October rivalry game, with Penn State-Michigan on FOX drawing 6.45 million viewers, according to SportsMediaWatch.com.

Another reason why this past Saturday’s game was so historic? For the first time ever, Tennessee is in a position to make the College Football Playoff being ranked at No. 3 in Week 8. The Volunteers haven’t been in contention with the new playoff format being implemented in 2014, having last ranked in the top 10 in 2001.

Of course, Tennessee still has a meeting with Georgia November 5 and may need to go through Alabama once more to win the SEC Championship and earn an auto-bid. Still, the Vols are enjoying an incomparable high for any current UT student in the aftermath of their touchdown-plus underdog victory over the Crimson Tide.

Nick Saban’s Comments on Final Minute of Tennessee game

Viewership was high for Alabama-Tennessee in the fourth quarter because of the photo finish between the two teams. The cross-division SEC rivals put up 2 touchdowns each in the final quarter before Crimson Tide kicker Will Reichard missed a go-ahead 50-yard field goal, giving way to Hendon Hooker gaining 45 yards through the air on 2 completions to Ramel Keyton and Bru McCoy to set up a game-winning 40-yard kick by Chase McGrath to seal the 52-49 Volunteers victory.

Nick Saban tipped his hat to Josh Heupel’s Tennessee and sounded regretful about throwing the ball 3 times on Alabama’s final possession before Reichard’s missed field goal during the October 15 post-game media scrum. “You gotta give them a lot of credit,” Saban said. “They did a great job with their offense based on what we were trying to do on defense. But we didn’t execute well enough. You gotta give our players a lot of credit for fighting back, getting back in the game … and having an opportunity to win at the end. I wish we could do some things a little different in the end.”

Saban did concede there was a strategy in handing the ball to Bryce Young on 3 consecutive plays while ignoring his 100+ yard running back Jahmyr Gibbs. “No, we were trying to move it closer. We thought they were blitzing,” he said “I thought we could’ve made some plays in the passing game. You know they were blitzing and we were in empty. We got to throw the ball hot. We didn’t do it exactly right.”

Will Anderson Blames Alabama Defensive Struggles on Anxiety

Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee is a hostile environment for the away team, and as Will Anderson explained, that could have had a hand in the Crimson Tide defense lacking its usual energy — Nick Saban had even said himself post-game Saturday that the team was lacking energy and the usual chants they’d say coming out of the locker room before the game — against the Volunteers.

“I think we probably just had a lot of anxiety, we didn’t have the same intensity that we had a couple weeks ago. We most definitely needed that to carry over into this game, but, just the intensity was not where it needed to be,” Anderson said during an October 17 press conference.

In the immediate aftermath of the loss for Alabama, Saban opined that his team needs to take something away from being on the wrong side of an all-time classic game having not showed up the way the Tide typically does. “The big thing our players need to do is learn from this experience, have more respect for playing with discipline,” he said. “But I also told the players that we can accomplish every goal that we had at the beginning of the season.”

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