As Tennessee fans, it isn’t new to have our team rip our hearts out of our collective chests with a heartbreaking loss. Whether it is a comeback coming up short, blowing a late lead, losing to an inferior team, or not getting the benefit of the whistle, it sometimes seems like Tennessee just finds a way to disappoint.
In a weird, messed up form of coping with the latest heart-breaker last Thursday against Purdue in the Sweet 16, I have decided to conglomerate all the most memorable disappointments and letdowns of the past ten years in basketball and football. Now you can relive being miserable in chronological order!
Did we miss one? Remember where you were when one of these went down and have a good story to tell about how sad/mad you were? Comment below or find the post on Twitter @FOXSportsKnox.
Alabama, 2009, Football
Yep, the Mt. Cody game.
Lane Kiffin’s one and only season on campus at Tennessee was interesting, to say the least. Tennessee started the season 3-3, which included a close 23-13 loss to then No. 1 Florida on the road. If you have watched Tennessee football for a few years, you know that Tennessee always seems to have the most brutal schedule to navigate.
2009 was no different. For their seventh game of the season, they had to go on the road to visit the No. 1 team in the country, again. But this time around, it was much, much closer.
It was a defensive affair, with Alabama not even managing to score a touchdown the entire game. Eric Berry recovered future Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram’s first collegiate fumble late in the 4th quarter, which led to a Jonathan Crompton touchdown pass to Gerald Jones. With the score sitting at 12-10 in favor of Alabama, Tennessee successfully recovered the ensuing onside kick. A 23-yard pass to Luke Stocker got Tennessee to the Alabama 27, and the only thing sitting between Tennessee knocking off No. 1 Alabama on the road was a 45-yard field goal.
Of course that didn’t happen. 350-pound nose guard Terrence Cody, also known as “Mt. Cody,” busted through the Tennessee line for his second blocked kick of the game, and Tennessee went home empty-handed. Alabama would go on to win their first of many national championships of the Nick Saban era, finishing 14-0.
Final Score: No. 1 Alabama 12, Tennessee 10
Michigan State, 2010, Basketball
Maybe you include this one on your own personal heartbreak list, maybe you don’t. Me personally, I remember thinking this 2010 team could, and maybe should, make it to the Final Four. Following their upset win over Ohio State in the Sweet 16, it was starting to look like that wasn’t out of the question. Especially considering the 1, 3, and 4-seeds in the region had been knocked out, as well. The first Elite Eight in school history didn’t look like the ceiling for this team.
The actual playing of the game wasn’t the heart-breaking part. The game itself was fairly even throughout. The heart-breaking part was that the season had to come to an end. Beloved guys like J.P. Prince, Wayne Chism, and Brian Williams had blazed a new trail for the program, but that didn’t lessen the blow of bowing out before making the Final Four after a one point loss.
Final Score: Michigan State 70, Tennessee 69
LSU, 2010, Football
Yep. The 13-men on the field game.
Tennessee’s 2010 season was a weird one, to say the least. Derek Dooley’s first year on campus, Tennessee would follow their season opening win against UT-Martin with lopsided losses to top-10 teams Oregon and Florida. In their fourth game, they needed two overtimes to beat a UAB team that would go on to finish 4-8. Their first road game of the season was in Death Valley against No. 12 LSU.
Tennessee took a late 14-10 lead in the 4th quarter on a Matt Simms rushing touchdown. LSU would march down the field, the following possession, but LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee would throw an interception in Tennessee’s end zone. Tennessee, in turn, went back down the field, but was stopped on a 4th-and-1 before reaching field goal range. Lee would again lead the Tigers right back down into the red zone.
The Tigers’ other QB Jordan Jefferson ran for the end zone on the 2-yard line, but he was stopped short. With no timeouts and the game clock winding down, LSU center T-Bob Hebert (his actual name) panic-snapped the ball when Jefferson wasn’t paying attention. Tennessee would pounce on the loose ball as time expired, and Tennessee got out of Baton Rouge, victorious.
The teams had to be called back onto the field and time had to be put back on the clock because, you guessed it, Tennessee had 13 men on the field when the ball was snapped. LSU would score on their second chance on an untimed down with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Final Score: No. 12 LSU 16, Tennessee 14
North Carolina, 2010, Football
Yep, the Tyler Bray throat-slash game.
The 2010 Music City Bowl looked to be pretty standard for a Music City Bowl for most of the game. The bar was set pretty low, to begin with. Tennessee needed to rally late in the season even to make a bowl game, while North Carolina was, well, North Carolina.
Going into the 4th, UNC led 17-14. With about five minutes left, freshman quarterback Bray found freshman Justin Hunter for an eight-yard touchdown, but senior kicker Daniel Lincoln missed the ensuing PAT to leave the score at 20-17 Tennessee.
Fast forward a few minutes, and the score is still 20-17. North Carolina has the ball down three on their own 20 with no timeouts and 30 seconds left. Four plays later, they were on the Tennessee 16 only needing a field goal to tie the game. However, miscommunication on personnel led to North Carolina trying to spike the ball with no time left on the clock and about 17 men on the field. The refs declared the game over and the coaches shake hands at midfield. Tennessee wins the 2010 Music City Bowl, 20-17, while the players storm the field in celebration.
Just kidding, again!
Like the LSU game earlier that year, the teams had to be called back to their sidelines after some had left the field. After review, there was one second left on the clock, and North Carolina was penalized for having 97,000 (roughly) players on the field. Of course, they nail the ensuing field goal to send the game to overtime.
In the first overtime, Bray answered a North Carolina touchdown with a perfect pass across the middle to Luke Stocker. After the play, he looked over at the North Carolina bench and did a throat-slashing motion in celebration. In the ensuing drive, he hit a North Carolina defender right between the numbers for an interception. North Carolina gets the ball back, kicks a field goal, and wins the game.
Bonus salt in the wound: The NCAA implemented a 10-second runoff rule effective at the start of the 2011 season because of this game. If the rule had been in effect for this game, Tennessee would have won at the end of regulation.