Vols Were One Of Five SEC Teams To Accomplish Feat


Oct 19, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers running back Marlin Lane (15) rushes against South Carolina Gamecocks safety Chris Moody (6) and South Carolina linebacker Kaiwan Lewis (8) during the second half at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

If you enter a season with aspirations of making a bowl game and then you fail to meet those expectations, there typically aren’t a lot of things you can say you did better than the majority of your conference.

But there is one thing that Tennessee accomplished that only four other SEC teams also accomplished.

Beat a team ranked in the top five of the final AP poll.

Tennessee accomplished this feat by beating South Carolina — ranked #4 in the Final AP Poll — on October 19 in Knoxville. The Gamecocks were ranked #11 at the time, but they finished the season strong by beating Missouri, Clemson and Wisconsin.

The other SEC teams to accomplish this same feat were:

  • Auburn — Beat Missouri (#5 in final AP poll)
  • Georgia — Beat South Carolina (#4 in final AP poll)
  • LSU — Beat Auburn (#2 in final AP poll)
  • South Carolina — Beat Missouri (#5 in final AP poll)

If you’re a Vols fan and you’re looking for something you can hold over the heads of your Alabama friends (or enemies), then here’s your chance. The Crimson Tide only played one team in the top five and they fail to Auburn in a classic Iron Bowl. The highest ranked team that Alabama beat was #14 LSU.

It’s not much, but it’s something — right?

When the Vols beat South Carolina in October, it looked like Tennessee’s season was about to take an exciting turn. The week before the win against the Gamecocks, the Vols had just narrowly lost to a Georgia team that was ranked #6 at the time. After beating South Carolina, the Vols were riding high as they prepared to head to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. Folks like Kirk Herbstreit even put the Tide on upset alert that week.

The good feelings didn’t last long, however, as the Vols were clearly outmatched by Alabama.

On top of that, the Vols lost their starting quarterback, Justin Worley, to a thumb injury.

Despite the fact that Worley had suffered through a great deal of criticism, some of it deservedly, the quarterback job was clearly his.

When Worley went down, the Vols were forced to turn to true freshman Josh Dobbs.

Dobbs did an admiral job of running the offense over the last half of the season, but it was obvious why Butch Jones hadn’t given him a chance as the starter — he wasn’t ready.

The Vols offense struggled after Worley’s injury, which ultimately cost the Vols a win against Vanderbilt and a bowl game appearance.

Tennessee will now enter yet another season with a quarterback battle that will be the central focus of spring and summer camp. Justin Worley will once again fight for the job against Josh Dobbs, Riley Ferguson and Nathan Peterman.

Regardless of who wins the starting job, they won’t have the immense pressure on their shoulders that comes with trying to win a “signature game” for their head coach.

That’s because unlike the previous coach at Tennessee, Butch Jones went ahead and got that one out of the way early.

Now he can focus on what matters — championships.