There is something weird going on within all Tennessee fans. An excitement and desire to commit to something that none of us have any control over in hopes that the jubilation of victory will be achieved in the end. As a fanbase, we share all of the highs and we share all of the lows.
This is part two of our effort to recap the lowest of lows:
Kentucky, Football, 2011
Before this game, Kentucky hadn’t beaten Tennessee since “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham was the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. That was 1984 for the uninitiated. The game started with both of Kentucky’s quarterbacks injured, leaving Matt Roark as the best option left to close the season for the Wildcats. Roark, who was listed as a wide receiver at the time, had not played quarterback since his senior year of high school in Georgia.
To make matters worse, there was no notable turning point in this game to call back on. Just one long, plodding, terrible football game that ended with Tennessee losing in embarrassing fashion in the end. Kentucky only managed two scoring drives, but Tennessee could only manage one.
This loss hurt for a lot of reasons. It knocked Tennessee out of bowl contention. It was the first season ever that Tennessee lost seven SEC games. The head coach at the time, Derek Dooley, abstained from talking to the media for what felt like months after the game, leaving reporters and fans in the dark as to what the hell had happened. There were rumors flying around that some of the players played poorly on purpose because they didn’t want to play in a bowl game for that coaching staff.
The whole thing was a mess.
Final: Kentucky 10, Tennessee 7
Georgia, Football, 2012
The start of the 2012 season looked promising for Tennessee. They showed up in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A kickoff game and blew NC State completely out of the water. They followed that game up with an easy win against Georgia State at home. Behind the arm of Tyler Bray, the hands of Justin Hunter, and the athleticism of Cordarrelle Patterson, it looked like Tennessee had one of the better offenses in the SEC, if not the country.
Then the conference schedule came along.
Following their first conference loss a the hands of No. 18 Florida, Tennessee had to hit the road and go down to Athens, Ga. to take on Todd Gurley and the No. 5 Bulldogs. It wound up being a shootout. Between the two teams, there were six scoring plays of 30 yards or longer. Tennessee scored with about nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to make the score 51-44. With every opportunity to win the game, they just couldn’t do it. They got the ball back three more times the rest of the game, only needing a touchdown to tie the game and send it to overtime. Or they could have kicked three field goals to win the game outright.
They could do neither of those things. Instead, in those last three possessions, they threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball away to lose the ball game.
So close, yet so far.
Final: No. 5 Georgia 51,Tennessee 44
Georgia, Football, 2013
As close as the previous encounter was, surely this chapter couldn’t be any more stressful than the previous for Tennessee fans right?
Wrong. Incredibly wrong.
This time around, the Tennessee-Georgia game needed overtime to settle. No. 6 Georgia jumped out to an early 17-3 lead in the first half. Then things got interesting. Tennessee scored the first two touchdowns of the second half to tie the score going into the fourth quarter, including a blocked punt return. Then Tennessee and Georgia exchanged 75-yard touchdown drives.
If you don’t have a calculator handy, that puts the score at 24-24.
Following a Georgia punt late in the fourth quarter, Tennessee went on a march. A calculated 13-play, 80-yard drive culminated in a touchdown run from Rajion Neal, allowing Tennessee to take a late 31-24 lead. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray wouldn’t let the Bulldogs go quietly, marching his team down for a touchdown of their own with five seconds left on the game clock.
Overtime is where the heartbreak happens. On the first drive of overtime, Tennessee faced a 2nd and goal from about the eight yard line. They ran a wide receiver by the name of Pig Howard on a sweep to the right. He bounced it outside, beat a couple of defenders with his speed, and dove for the pylon. The referee’s gave the signal for a touchdown. Georgia ball, and they need a touchdown to go to the next stage of overtime.
Just kidding, again!
For the third time in this series, Tennessee has a monumental moment get reviewed and turned against them. This time, it was found that Howard had fumbled the ball out of the end zone when he was diving for the corner. Meaning no touchdown and Georgia ball. They make a field goal on their ensuing drive, and it’s game over.
Final: No. 6 Georgia 34, Tennessee 31 (OT)
Vanderbilt, Football, 2013
This one, like the Kentucky game we mentioned earlier, was really just more sad than heartbreaking. Tennessee lost in the most boring possible way to a team that was worse than them playing a quarterback of some significance. This time, it was a guy by the name of Patton Robinette from Maryville High school about 30 minutes away from Tennessee’s campus. Not only did Robinette not get an offer from Tennessee, he chose to go to the SEC school down I-40, where he would beat Tennessee anyway.
The game itself was tough to watch, to say the least. Vanderbilt and Tennessee would combine for seven total turnovers and neither team had more than 300 total yards. One of the fun plays from Tennessee was a fake field goal attempt…on 4th and 19. By the end of the game, Vanderbilt’s entire starting secondary was either injured or ejected. Tennessee could still only muster 53 passing yards and gave up three interceptions.
It all culminated in Robinette scoring a touchdown on a fake jump pass with 16 seconds left to seal the deal. Tennessee had its fourth straight losing season, something that hadn’t happened since the early 1900s. They also lost to Vanderbilt in consecutive games, something that hadn’t happened since the 1920s.
It was also about 20 degrees outside that night. That sucked, too.