KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - It was perfect weather for tailgating Saturday, and thousands got up early to get a head start.
Tailgating is as strong as ever, even if the rivalry between UT and Alabama isn't what it used to mean on the national stage.
"Probably diminished on Tennessee's side just a little bit because Alabama has dominated, but maybe that will turn around today," said Ron Lawrence, a UT fan.
Not likely, according to some fans.
"I think we're gonna win the game, it's gonna be a good game though. A good first half. We'll finish the job in the second," said Ed Majewski, an Alabama fan.
"I think there's a tiny chance we could come back this year. But I think Alabama is pretty strong so I'm afraid it's not going to be that great a game," said Leslie Cosby, a UT fan.
But even if the odds are tipped in Alabama's favor, it's a historic rivalry, which is why many said they're excited.
"I just think that no matter what the rankings say or what the people say, it's always going to be a good game. It's a huge rivalry. You always know the third weekend in October is going to be the Alabama game. I think people will come out, it'll be exciting no matter what the score ends up being," said Jessica Hensen, a UT fan.
The Strip was packed with people tailgating and hotels downtown were booked. But the Hilton's general manager, Paul Jordan, said people waited to make their reservations.
"People are waiting much later to book, see what time the game is. Where in years past, when they're a ranked team and doing good and they have national title aspirations, we'll book like a year out, certainly 9 months out. So that part has changed," said Jordan.
Last minute reservations or not, everyone is excited for the game.