4. 2017: Alabama Crimson Tide defeat Tennessee football 45-7
While the 2016 Tennessee-Alabama game signaled the start of the downward spiral for Butch Jones on Rocky Top, the 2017 game featured a Vols team already dead in the water. Half the fans had quit on the program and were rooting for a loss so Jones would get fired. And with Joshua Dobbs gone, this game got ugly.
Tennessee football’s defense fought to keep this game close early and only trailed 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. But the offense was useless all game. We don’t even have to give you that much of a summary here. It was just a boring blowout.
The useless offense eventually forced the defense to give way, and they gave up two late second half touchdowns. Then they gave up another touchdown to open the third quarter, and the offense could only respond with a fumble.
Rocky Top’s only touchdown in this game was a pick-six by Daniel Bituli after they were already down 28-0. That led to the infamous flip-off to the crowd by Rashaan Gaulden. But it was really boiled over frustration at the coaching staff that led to that. The Tide won this game 45-7 and just piled on a program that was crumbling before everybody’s eyes.
Jeremy Pruitt’s coaching grade: A
Again, it should be an A+. Pruitt and his unit held the Vols to just 108 yards of total offense, allowed only seven first downs and didn’t allow any points. But there was no defensive touchdown in this game, as they only forced one turnover. On top of that, this was a terrible Vols offense. By the start of the Alabama game, they had gone 10 quarters already without scoring a touchdown and were shutout by the Georgia Bulldogs two games earlier. As a result, this is just an A grade for Pruitt.