Saturday will mark Tennessee football’s second meeting with the Georgia State Panthers. The Volunteers won the first time, but the season didn’t end well.
There are a surprising number of similarities between the last time Tennessee football played the Georgia State Panthers and this season. For instance, it was Jim Chaney’s last season as the Vols’ offensive coordinator, 2012, and now he’s back in the same role.
It was also the last time Derrick Ansley was on staff. The current UT defensive coordinator was the Vols’ defensive backs coach at the time. On top of that, there was cautious optimism surrounding the program at the time. Derek Dooley was in his third year, and he had finally restocked the roster to where he wanted it after inheriting a mess in 2010. That’s true for Jeremy Pruitt this year.
Entering that game, the Vols were already 1-0. They had secured an exciting victory over the N.C. State Wolfpack in the Chick-fil-A kickoff the week before, on a Friday, breaking their Georgia Dome curse in the process.
Georgia State was an FCS program at the time, and nobody expected the Vols to struggle. They didn’t winning the game on dominating fashion, 51-13. The result of that win and that 2-0 start was them reaching the top 25 the next week, the first time they had been in the rankings since the opening week of the 2008 season.
A win over Georgia State this time won’t put Tennessee football in the top 25. And yes, the Vols are expected to dominate them the way they did back in 2012. So the game itself, despite GSU being in the FBS now, is not the story.
The story is what happened after that. Following their entry into the top 25, the Vols hosted the Florida Gators and College GameDay. This was the year they would end their seven-game losing streak in the series, and up 20-13 with the ball after stopping a fake punt late in the third, it seemed like they could do it.
But a missed protection assignment resulting in a grounding penalty from Tyler Bray may have changed the whole season. That ended the drive. On the next drive, Florida had an 80-yard touchdown run. They then took the lead after another stop and long touchdown run, and the Vols unraveled, allowing 24 unanswered points and losing 37-20.
More from Vols Football
- How to Win a GUARANTEED $200 Bonus Betting Just $5 on the Vols vs. Florida!
- Tennessee Football at Florida: Five Keys to a Vols Victory
- Week 3 SEC Power Rankings: Did Tennessee Football’s Win Help At All?
- Week 3 AP Polls: Why Did Tennessee Football Drop in the Polls?
- Tennessee Football: Top Five Performers in 30-13 Win vs. Austin Peay
They rebounded to beat Akron in a meaningless game the next week, but the defensive issues combined with lack of confidence from not winning that Florida game would go on to wreck the season, as they would lose four straight following that and six of seven. Dooley’s third team finished the year at 5-7, and he was fired after they had fallen to 4-7.
For a couple of other interesting connections to that season, Jeremy Pruitt was in his final year as defensive backs coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Shawn Elliott, Georgia State’s head coach, was the offensive coordinator of the South Carolina Gamecocks.
And for the best bit of irony, it also happened to be the last time the Vols drew the Mississippi State Bulldogs from the SEC West. They were led by Dan Mullen, who is in his second year with the Florida Gators now. Oh, Florida was in their second year with Will Muschamp in 2012, who is now the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks after taking over for Shawn Elliott.
Seriously, the connections to that season are insane. But as Phillip Fulmer used to say, every game stands on its own. Every season stands on its own as well. So what happened that year means nothing in terms of what will happen this year. If Tennessee football blows out Georgia State, as it should, it will be just another win.