By (Matthew Speakman)

Alabama faces a long-time SEC foe Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville. The Crimson Tide first met on Oct. 10, 1903, which ended in a 30-0 Commodores victory. Times have certainly changed since then, with Alabama at the forefront of the college football world, while Vanderbilt is now on the rise.

The Commodores are off to a hot start, winning their first three games, including a 14-7 win over Kansas State. Many college football pundits felt that the Commodores deserved to be in the top 25. Nick Saban is among them.

“They do a great job of executing on both sides of the ball,” Saban said. “I think the results that they’ve gotten so far this season certainly bear that out.”

Vanderbilt is a different team than what the Crimson Tide last saw. Head coach Derek Mason has improved the Commodores record every season, and even has signature wins over Georgia and Tennessee.

With the No. 1 team in the country coming to town this weekend, Mason is ready to show Alabama how much his team has improved.

“We’re playing the No. 1 team in the country,” Mason said. “Alabama gets everybody’s best every week, and hopefully our’s is good enough to put on a show.”

With Vanderbilt off to a hot start, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding Mason’s program. He says his players are doing a good job of keeping a level head.

“We’ve always been shielded from the hype because there’s never been a whole bunch of it,” Mason said. “Four weeks ago, nobody was really talking about Vanderbilt.”

Alabama and Vanderbilt last met on Oct. 8, 2011. It’s been even longer since Alabama played Vanderbilt in a road game. The Crimson Tide last traveled to Nashville on Sept. 9, 2007 during Nick Saban’s first year as head coach.

With so much time between matchups, Vanderbilt is not being taken lightly by Alabama players. Keith Holcombe is ready for Alabama’s first SEC game.

“You understand that in the SEC all around it’s understood that it’s going to be a fight,” Keith Holcombe said. It doesn’t matter who it is or where it is. We understand who we’re playing. We respect them.”

Vanderbilt has playmakers on both sides of the ball. On offense, quarterback Jesse Ertz is in the top 10 in quarterback rating and has The Commodores’ rushing attack is led by Ralph Webb, who has rushed for over 900 yards in his previous three years with Vanderbilt.

On the defensive side, Vanderbilt has been lights out. The Commodores rank 10th in the country in total defense, and have only allowed 147 passing yards per game this season. Charles Wright is tied for first in the NCAA in sacks with 6.5 on the year.

“They run the ball effectively,” Saban said. “They’re physical. Same way on defense. There’s no question about the buy-in to the program and the job that [Mason has] done there.”

Alabama and Vanderbilt will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS. It will be the 84th time Alabama has played the Commodores.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports