The first game 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 Tide as Robert Neyland began challenging Alabama for their perennial spot on top of the conference standings.
Between 1971 and 1981, Alabama held an eleven-game winning streak over the Volunteers and between 1986 and 1994, a nine-game unbeaten streak. However, following Alabama’s streak, Tennessee responded with a seven-game winning streak from 1995 to 2001. Alabama won the last 8 meeting as of 2014, and 6 out of the last 8 meeting have been consecutive blowouts. Alabama currently holds 51–38–7, 52–37–8 on the field in the series.
The game has been played in 3 different cities. Alabama leads the series in all three venues: for games played in Birmingham, Alabama, by a record of 21–14–6 (21–13–7 “on the field”), for those contested in Knoxville, Tennessee, by a record of 23–20–1, and for games in the series played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, by a record of 7–4 (8-4 “on the field”). Alabama won the last game, played on October 25, 2014, 34–20.
Alabama and Tennessee both have 12 shutouts in the series.
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. Both teams continued the tradition for some time, though kept it secret due to NCAA rules concerning extra benefits and tobacco products. Alabama publicly restarted the tradition in 2005, though as a result, self-reported an NCAA violation. Every year since 2005, the winning team knowingly violates the NCAA rule and reports the violation in honor of tradition.