14. Missouri Tigers
Year: 2012 (Home)
Final score: Missouri wins 51-48 (4OT)
As the one team in the SEC that Tennessee football did not play before the 1960s, the Missouri Tigers didn’t face the Vols until they joined the SEC. That was this season, along with the Texas A&M Aggies.
And similar to A&M, UT’s worst loss to them is not nearly one of the worst ever. However, the Vols have lost five of seven to them since they joined the SEC. This just happens to be the worst of those five for a few reasons.
For starters, Mizzou was horrible this year. They had not yet adjusted to the SEC and were off to a 4-5 start with a 1-5 conference record. The Vols were also 4-5, to be fair, but they had played a brutal schedule. These final three games were supposed to get them to 7-5 and potentially save Derek Dooley’s job in a disastrous season due to the Sal Sunseri defensive coordinator hire.
Well, the historically great offense was undone once again in this game by that hire. Despite 404 yards and four touchdowns from Tyler Bray, the defense couldn’t get a stop in the second half. When Mizzou tied the game at 28 with 47 seconds left, a squib kick gave UT the ball on their own 39-yard line with two timeouts.
But after two incompletions, Dooley decided to play for overtime and heard a string of boos from the crowd. Already on the hot seat and likely fired, this was the final straw. The Tigers pulled away in four overtimes 51-48, and Dooley was already basically fired. However, Dave Hart waited a week, and the distractions resulted in a 41-18 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores.
That this loss is the only one to a Mizzou team with a losing record and also a close one, it combines embarrassment and heartbreak. It was also at home, the first meeting between the two schools and effectively ended a coach’s career, so it had everything to be a bad loss.