2. Penalties were a huge problem.
It’s actually pretty simple how Tennessee football lost this game. The Vols had three turnovers while Pitt had none, and they had nearly twice as many penalty yards. Johnny Majors would have easily predicted this outcome with that stat line.
We have somewhat addressed the Vol turnovers, though, and more on that is to come. Penalties were a huge issue. UT had 13 penalties for 134 yards. Many of these were drive killers, and some of them kept Pitt drives alive as well.
On Pitt’s first touchdown, the Vols had a defensive pass interference that spotted them the ball at the UT 11. The next drive, after they made it 2nd and goal from the 3, but a false start, an unnecessary roughness penalty and an offensive pass interference made it 2nd and goal from the 37, which is why they had to settle for a field goal.
Rocky Top’s fumble on their opening drive in the second half also came after a false start penalty. We could go on and on, but the fact of the matter is the Vols lost this game because of penalties and miscues. Pitt wasn’t much better, with nine penalties for 76 yards, but the Vols were historically bad in this game.