12. Tennessee football loses at LSU in 2010 after seemingly winning.
Less than a year after the Kiffin departure, Derek Dooley was 2-2 into his first season as Tennessee football’s head coach. Given the mess he inherited, everybody knew that it would take two rebuilding seasons before the program got rolling.
But the difficult situation got worse because of games he was unable to win. And the first sign of that was this one.
The Tennessee Vols had suffered close losses since Fulmer’s departure in numerous sports. There was the Alabama football game of 2009 and the Elite Eight loss to the Michigan State Spartans. But those were just close games. This was a sign of bad fortune.
Dooley and his team, with Matt Simms at quarterback, played a flawless game at Death Valley. Significantly outmanned, they forced four LSU turnovers and committed none, resulting in a 14-10 lead late.
But the Tigers wouldn’t quit. They went down the field on a final drive in the fourth quarter, including a 4th-and-12 conversion to save the game. Then they got inside the five-yard line, and as you can see in the video above, chaos ensued.
Jordan Jefferson was stopped on an option play with less than 30 seconds to go. LSU had no timeouts, and the clock was running down. Les Miles, then, in his incompetence, called for multiple substitutions, confusing everybody.
The confusion resulted in a bad snap that Jefferson didn’t field, and it should have ended the game. However, replays showed that in trying to respond to LSU’s late substitutions, Tennessee accidentally had 13 men on the field when the ball was snapped. So LSU got another chance and scored the game winning touchdown with no time left.
It was a major difference of emotions, from highs of highs to Vols fans thinking they won to lows of lows with a heartbreaking loss. Make no mistake, if Dooley won this game his first year, it would have been huge for recruiting and momentum. He didn’t, and Tennessee Vols fans thought things couldn’t get anymore heartbreaking…until their next unlucky break.