For a team that plays in what's often regarded as college football's most competitive conference, many of Alabama's 20 victories since the beginning of last season have lacked late-game drama.
The most recent installment of the Crimson Tide's rivalry with Tennessee had plenty.
The seventh-ranked Tide needed a blocked field goal on the final play to avoid a stunning upset last season, which should leave Alabama wary heading into another apparent mismatch Saturday night in Knoxville.
Only three times since the start of 2009 have the Crimson Tide (6-1, 3-1 SEC) won by less than a touchdown. While a few of those games - at Auburn in November and at Arkansas last month - required a late comeback, Alabama had to hang on to win last season's visit from Tennessee.
Trailing 12-3 late in the fourth quarter, the Volunteers recovered a Mark Ingram fumble - still the only one the reigning Heisman Trophy winner has lost - and scored to cut their deficit to two. After recovering an onside kick, Tennessee got into position to attempt a winning 44-yard field goal.
Daniel Lincoln's kick was blocked by Terrence Cody, the Alabama defensive tackle's second block of the fourth quarter and Lincoln's third miss of the game. The Vols, two-touchdown underdogs coming in, outgained the then-No. 2 Tide 339-256.
"It doesn't matter what Tennessee's record is," defensive tackle Marcel Dareus said. "When we come to play Tennessee they're going to bring their 'A Game.' They play hard every time we play them, just like last year. We couldn't say anything about their record but when they come to play us they put on a fight."
Alabama is again heavily favored to win the 92nd meeting between the border rivals, but this time it's attempting to get back into national championship contention rather than being in one of two pole positions.
The Tide's defense got back to business after surrendering 35 points in the team's loss at South Carolina on Oct. 9. Alabama held Mississippi to 243 yards and didn't allow a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter of a 23-10 win in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
"They carried us," Alabama tight end Preston Dial said.
Perhaps the biggest change Nick Saban and the Tide will notice from last season's meeting with the Vols (2-4, 0-3) is on the sidelines. First-year coach Derek Dooley, who worked under Saban at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins, was hired after Lane Kiffin left for USC.
"He understands the big picture of issues and problems that you have to deal with in a program, and I think he is a really good recruiter," Saban said. "I think he has all the right stuff to be a very successful college coach."
Dooley, however, has plenty of work to do to get Tennessee back on its feet after consecutive subpar seasons. The Vols are the lone SEC team without a conference win after falling 41-14 at Georgia on Oct. 9.
Tennessee rushed for nine yards and gave up more than 400 yards for the fourth time in five games. While Greg McElroy and the Alabama passing game are still finding their footing - the Tide have allowed 21 sacks, one more than last season - Dooley isn't looking forward to facing them.
"Our matchup against any passing attack has not been good,'' Dooley said. "As long as they're running routes and throwing the ball it's a bad matchup. ... They've got all the parts, so I think we've got to continue to try to put pressure on the quarterback."
Perhaps a healthier Julio Jones can get the Tide going. The junior receiver missed the second half of the Ole Miss game after breaking his hand a week earlier, but seemed to be much sharper at practice Monday.
McElroy would certainly benefit from improved production from the ground game. Ingram and Trent Richardson were held under 4.0 yards per carry and without a touchdown the past two weeks after averaging 7.6 yards and scoring 10 times in the first five contests.
"(The offense) hasn't been explosive,'' McElroy said. "We're just capable of more. We demand a lot more of ourselves as an offense, and I know we're capable of a lot more.
"I think we just lack the trust in each other right now. We just need to get that back.''
Alabama has produced only eight sacks - it had 20 at this point last season - but might get a chance for more Saturday. Tennessee's Matt Simms has been sacked 20 times in four games behind a young and banged-up offensive line, and Dooley has said he'll get freshman quarterback Tyler Bray some snaps against the Tide.
Alabama has won 21 in a row against unranked opponents.