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Breaking away from the Memphis 'blues'

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Tennessee’s Dan Williams was in the stands for Memphis’ only win over the Vols 13 years ago.

He was wearing blue and cheering for the Tigers that day when they upset the No. 6-ranked Vols and Peyton Manning 21-17 at the Liberty Bowl in 1996.

“It was crazy. We tailgated in the parking lot and were there all night,” Williams said.

Williams, the Vols’ senior defensive tackle, has a unique perspective on this game. He’s from Memphis. His father, Thomas, is a Memphis graduate and still bleeds blue.

Williams admits that he even has a few Memphis T-shirts that he might wear when he’s away from the Tennessee football complex. His best friend is Memphis offensive guard Malcolm Rawls. They both came to Tennessee together out of East High in Memphis before Rawls ended up transferring back to Memphis after a year in Knoxville.

But Williams is all orange now and figures one Memphis win over Tennessee in his lifetime is enough.

He and his father still go at it in a good-natured way. And, yes, Thomas Williams will be at Neyland Stadium cheering for the Vols on Saturday.

“He’s been all Tennessee lately, but he’ll tell me, ‘Son, I’ll always bleed Tiger blue,’ ” Williams said. “He does remind me and tells me that once my time is up here that he’s going to bleed Tiger blue again. Now, during basketball season, he definitely reminds me. We came to a Memphis-Tennessee basketball game up here a few years ago, and he had all of his blue on.”