2. 1992: Arkansas beats Tennessee 25-24
We already mentioned the South Carolina Gamecocks loss in 1992. But the loss that really got things going downhill for Tennessee football was to the other SEC newcomer that year, the Arkansas Razorbacks.
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And yes, this was a significantly worse loss. Arkansas was a worse team, finishing the year 3-7-1, and the game was at Neyland Stadium. When you look at all of Johnny Majors’s bad upset losses that he would suffer on a yearly basis, this was his worst. And it set in motion what got him fired.
We already gave you the rundown of the situation. The Vols get to 3-0 with Fulmer replacing Majors, Majors returns and gets them to 5-0, and things are rolling. Undefeated, Tennessee football is No. 4 in the nation when Arkansas rolls to town. They were 1-4 at the time.
The Vols had one of those days where they played ugly football and fell behind 16-7. But they fought back later and seemingly allowed fans to breath a sigh of relief. A touchdown, a field goal and another touchdown showed late offensive dominance and was what they needed to avoid a scare.
No worries with this team up 24-16, right? Wrong again. With a little over two minutes left, the Vols punted to the Arkansas Razorbacks. They would need a long drive for a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
But that didn’t happen. Arkansas took the punt and returned it to the house for a touchdown. The Vols held on the two-point play. But then they bobbled the onside kick, and Arkansas recovered.
A couple of fluke plays had the Hogs in position to pull off this major upset. That’s just what they did. Then they converted a 3rd and 16 in their own territory over the middle to get inside Tennessee territory. With two seconds to go, they made a field goal that just grazed the right uprights. Arkansas won 25-24.
This set in motion Tennessee football’s collapse that year. In between Arkansas and South Carolina, the Vols lost to Alabama. But that would have been forgivable if they won those two games and finished the regular season 10-1. That’s why Majors got fired, and it’s why both these games are on the list.