Josh Heupel is the fifth straight Tennessee football head coach to lose his first game to a Power Five/BCS program. The Vols’ comeback bid against the Pittsburgh Panthers fell short, and they fell 41-34 in the Johnny Majors Classic to fall to 0-3 against Pitt all time, all three games of which were at Neyland Stadium.
UT was behind by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter but failed on two straight offensive possessions late. The Vols were stopped on a 4th and 1 inside the 10-yard line, and Hendon Hooker, who came in after a Joe Milton injury, threw an interception on the final drive. Pitt was then able to run out the clock with three first down runs.
With the loss, Rocky Top falls to 1-1 and will face the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles next week before beginning SEC play at the Florida Gators. Pitt improves to 2-0 and will host the Western Michigan Broncos next week. Here are five things we learned from Tennessee football’s heartbreaking loss on Saturday.
5. Second quarter is an issue.
For the second straight week, the second quarter was the Vols’ worst quarter. They jumped out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a blocked punt and then an impressive made field goal. However, Pitt scored 27 points in the second quarter alone to go up 27-20 at halftime. If you take out that quarter, Rocky Top dominates.
Last week, the Bowling Green Falcons also dominated the Vols in the second quarter. UT won 38-6 and went up 14-0 at the end of the first, but BGSU hit two field goals and shut them out in the second quarter. That was what made the game so ugly.
If this is a sign of things to come, it could be a problem. Tennessee football can’t constantly blow leads in the second quarter, even with a team that runs as up-tempo as Josh Heupel’s. The Vols have to be able to dictate the flow of the game for 60 minutes, and Pat Narduzzi took control from Heupel in the second in this one.