Tennessee football: Trolling Kentucky basketball, Halloween Rocky Top, Chad Johnson make for epic night

Tennessee students sing Rocky Top during Tennessee's game against Kentucky at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.Kns Vols Kentucky Bp
Tennessee students sing Rocky Top during Tennessee's game against Kentucky at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.Kns Vols Kentucky Bp /

They were supposed to look ahead of the Kentucky Wildcats. Instead, Tennessee football made sure fans had one of the most epic nights in school history, and that’s before the Vols play in their biggest regular season game in school history against the Georgia Bulldogs.

The stage was set early in the week. UT was undefeated and No. 3 in the nation, and they were hosting a UK team in the top 25. Being in a championship race Halloween weekend with a ranked team coming to town was big enough.

However, Tennessee football decided to throw in the dark mode uniforms for the game to provide a Halloween feel with black and orange. Against a ranked team, that was a huge excitement boost, and the Vols were only getting started.

Legendary NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson was in attendance. Johnson has touted the play of Jalin Hyatt, and he also spoke highly of Hendon Hooker. Hyatt tweeted his appreciation for Johnson’s support, Johnson met with Hooker, and Johnson himself tweeted everything he loved about the Vols throughout the night.

That wasn’t where the epic night ended, though. The Vols also decided to go all-in on Halloween with Rocky Top. There’s a horror film version of the song now, and the stadium decided to play that song before the team ran out onto the field.

Then there was Tennessee basketball. The Vols’ SEC Tournament Championship team came out and was honored, which was the perfect troll of Kentucky, as they did it at the expense of John Calipari’s program. To pour it on, the basketball team flashed its rings at the Kentucky section.

Given the fact that Tennessee football is supposed to own Kentucky but Kentucky basketball is supposed to own Tennessee, that had to cut deep. In recent years, Rick Barnes has made basketball an even series, but football still dominates.

Taking all of this into account, though, it was as memorable a night as anybody could ask for. Adding to the momentum, Alontae Taylor, who is now with the New Orleans Saints, took it upon himself to tweet about just how great Josh Heupel is.

What more could Heupel do to make history on Rocky Top? Well, that answer lies within what he and the Vols do at Georgia this weekend, but to this point, he has exceeded all expectations in the most insane way. Nobody saw this coming.

Saturday night against Kentucky was somewhat of a watershed moment of celebrating what he has done. Ending streaks to the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide, getting this team into the top five and remaining undefeated into November in just his second year has been huge.

Top five Vols in 44-6 win vs. Kentucky. dark. Next

There’s still a lot of work left to do given what is now expected of this program, but Tennessee football was able to use Saturday to celebrate where it is as a program. Being able to do that against a ranked team, with the utmost confidence that they would win, shows just how far this program has come.