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Who does Tennessee C Cooper Mays NOT want on the field Saturday?

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The Tennessee-Alabama series is familiar, like a warm blanket on The Third Saturday in October. However, things feel a bit different this time around, like a mid-October heat wave.

Things have ratcheted up significantly for the storied series, which will resume on Saturday in Neyland Stadium at 3:30. The Vols actually have a realistic chance of winning, per analysts and bookmakers, who have the game pegged as a seven-to-nine point spread. 

Two teams with a realistic shot of winning in the Tennessee-Alabama series? That hasn’t been the case very often in a series defined by streaks, most recently in Alabama’s favor. The Vols haven’t topped the Tide since 2006.

Tennessee center Cooper Mays doesn’t care what the outsiders may say. Does he believe the Vols can really beat Alabama?

“Yeah, no doubt,” Mays said. “I haven’t asked everbody, but I know I do. I don’t care who we play. We could play the (New England) Patriots.”

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Thanks to Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel, Mays has no doubt that the Vols can beat a formidable opponent like the Crimson Tide.

“Good teams hope they win,” Mays said. “Great teams expect to win. I think we’ve just kind of gotten to a point where we just go out there and we expect to win so I don’t know if it changes your confidence, but I think we’ve gotten to that point as a football team that we’re going to expect to win every game.”

Mays has been a believer for quite sometime. He told Off The Hook Sports on The Vol Report that the Vols should have never been an underdog to LSU, which they were before the season started. He was right. The Vols pounded the Tigers 40-13 on Saturday.

Mays has had a quiet confidence about him for months. Perhaps that’s because he keeps thing in perspective. As long as his teammates, who can be rattled by a big stage just like anyone, have the same mindset, the Vols do have the talent to be in every game they play this year.

“You just tell them at the end of the day, it’s a kids’ game,” May said. “I mean, you’re playing it for a king’s ransom I guess, but at the end of the day, it’s a kids game. I mean, we’re playing football. You need to have fun and just go out there and do what you’ve been doing your whole life. 

“I guess you’re in front of 100,000 people. If you get beat, everybody’s looking at you. But other than that, I mean. It’s a kids’ game.”

Mays’ approach doesn’t mean that he underestimates Alabama nor overestimates his team’s chances. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“They’ve got a lot of good guys, man,” Mays said when asked about Alabama. “They’re going to be hard to beat like always (but) there’s there’s no place in this game for you to not believe that you can win or not believe that you’re going to do great. 

“I mean, confidence is everything. If you’re not going out there expecting to win, I don’t want you on the field with me personally.”

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