Since 2016 there haven’t been many bright spots in the Tennessee football program. Here are the top three wins since 2016 for the Vols.
You may think of the last three years and not think of very good things for the football program but trust me. I have found three quality wins in the Tennessee archives over the past three years.
I can go ahead and give you a little preview of this list and tell you no wins from 2017 are on the list. Believe it or not, it’s hard to find a win you can be proud of when you only win four games all season.
After underachieving in 2016, former coach Lyle Jones led the Vols to their worst record in school history. Of all the dark years 2017 had to be the darkest.
Comparatively, 2018 was a little more fun for the Vols. Jeremy Pruitt led the Vols to their first SEC win in what seemed to be forever, and that’s where we start our list. The Vols didn’t get the end result they wanted but it was a step in the right direction.
I hope we can add a 2019 win or two to this list next year but for now here are the three best Tennessee wins from the past three seasons.
3. 2018 at Auburn
There’s only a handful of picks I can make here, and I think the win over Auburn fits best. This was the first SEC win under Jeremy Pruitt, and Tennessee was on track to break an SEC record for the longest winless streak in the SEC.
This win over Auburn provided many with hope. Hope that Pruitt would be the guy. The guy that could finally lead Tennessee to compete in the SEC again. This was also the first time Tennessee defeated an SEC West opponent since 2007, so that helps too.
Of course, the season didn’t end how Pruitt or the fans wanted it to, but this win prevented us from going 4-8 back-to-back years.
This was also the first time Tennessee had things clicking on defense. Pruitt impressed a lot of people with this win, and it was definitely a fun one to be a part of.
Could you believe I had the option to go to the Auburn game or the Florida game and I overpaid for Florida tickets? I can promise you I won’t be doing that again until we are a proven team in the SEC again.
2. 2018 vs. Kentucky
After going to the 2017 game against Kentucky in Lexington, I enjoyed last year’s win against the Wildcats a little more than some others.
Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt have dominated the Vols the past few years, so to finally win another one of those games felt good. Especially when it was Kentucky’s best team since the 80s. There’s nothing like beating an inferior school when they are having one of their best seasons ever to prove your dominance over them.
Pruitt used his defensive magic once again, this time on Kentucky. Tennessee seemed not to be able to buy an SEC win after the Auburn game. Pruitt game planned to near perfection against the Wildcats to put a damper on their record season.
I always enjoy beating Kentucky more than other late-season SEC opponents. Maybe it’s because my neighbors are Kentucky fans so bragging about effortlessly beating their team almost every year just makes it feel that much better.
1. 2016 vs. Florida
I debated between adding Georgia here with the hail mary, but after the forever-year win drought against Florida, I figured the Florida win would fit here best. I was also working during the Georgia game in 2016, so I didn’t see the hail mary live so that may have swayed my opinion here.
This was the first win against Florida, where I was able to understand the complete situation and the importance of beating Florida. The last time Tennessee beat Florida, I was just a youngblood who didn’t fully know what it meant to beat your biggest rival.
I close my eyes every night seeing Jauan Jennings cruising to the checkerboards as the Vols completed the comeback against the blue team down south. If that wouldn’t put a smile on your face as a Tennessee fan, I don’t know what will.
The past three years haven’t been fun, but there have been a few bright spots. Maybe the Georgia win should’ve gone on this list, but I didn’t get to experience it live, so I had to leave it off. Anyways, this list was unfortunately pretty easy to make after doing some “research” (trying to remember the SEC games we actually won). Hopefully, Pruitt will bring us more exciting moments in Neyland in 2019.