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What Josh Heupel Had to Say About the Alabama, Tennessee Rivalry

The new Tennessee head coach discussed whether or not the series is still considered a rivalry after 14 straight wins for the Crimson Tide.

During Wednesday's SEC Coaches teleconference, Tennessee coach Josh Heupel was asked if the series between Alabama and Tennessee could still be considered a rivalry if Alabama has won 14 in a row. 

It's Heupel's first year in Knoxville, so he hasn't been involved at all in the 14-year losing streak that the Volunteers are currently experiencing, but it is a valid question to consider. How much of a rivalry can there really be if one of the teams hasn't won in over a decade?

But to Heupel, especially because of the historical significance, the Third Saturday in October is still a rivalry. 

"For sure you talk about the historic nature of the football game," Heupel said. "Players that have been here understand the expectation and what this game means to people, so absolutely they have an understanding of it [the rivalry], but you talk about it and show some of those things too."

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Heupel knows it will be a challenge for his team going up against the No. 4 team in the country on the road. And while it would be huge to get a win and break the streak, he's focused on continuing to do the things that build the program he's trying to establish in Tennessee.

"For us it's really important that we continue to build the culture and build our program," Heupel said. "Absolutely, it's important to get a win in this football game and in this rivalry between the two schools. But for us it's about controlling the controllables, continuing to grow, continue to prepare the right way."

He will get his first chance at making an impact in the rivalry when the Volunteers come to Bryant-Denny Stadium at 6 on Saturday night.