8. Football beats Kentucky 24-7
It was clear that the Tennessee Vols football program would struggle last year under first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt. And they did. What more could you expect from a team that was 4-8 the year before, had half its roster miss spring ball due to injuries and then changed to a pro-style offense and a 3-4 defense under a new regime?
What made the uphill climb greater, however, was the program Mark Stoops had built at Kentucky. Despite a suspect offense, the Wildcats had built an elite defense and were in contention for the SEC East throughout the month of October.
Heading into this mid-November showdown, the Vols were 4-5. Despite a huge road win in October, which we’ll get to, they had looked ugly their previous three games and were without their top offensive lineman in Trey Smith. Kentucky, meanwhile, was 7-2, an overtime loss away from being 8-1, and ranked No. 12 in the nation.
But UT showed that they still dominate this rivalry. Behind Darrell Taylor’s four sacks, the defense dominated all day. They turned a defensive struggle into an open-season blowout thanks to a Hail Mary that Marquez Callaway caught at halftime, giving them a 17-0 lead at the time. UT then forced multiple fumbles and blocked a field goal in the second half to stay in control.
In an otherwise difficult season, this was a thrilling home win for Rocky Top. It showed that Jeremy Pruitt truly was building something. Now, they did lose their next two games to finish 5-7 due to not having enough depth. But this was a great moment for the program.