How do you destroy your opponent?


Gator Bowl

January 2, 2015


How? You do this with your first 8 possessions:

  • TD
  • TD
  • TD
  • TD
  • Punt
  • TD
  • Punt
  • TD

That took the Tennessee Volunteers all the way to the 3:13 mark of the third quarter. It was Tennessee 42 Iowa 7 at that point. And that was the ballgame.

It also doesn’t hurt to start those 8 possessions on the following yard markers:

  • Tenn 20
  • Tenn 33
  • Iowa 49
  • Tenn 38
  • Tenn 34
  • Tenn 25
  • Tenn 28
  • Tenn 25

Robert Neyland and George Cafego would have been proud.

It all added up to a colossal beat-down of the Big Ten’s Iowa Hawkeyes.

Jalen Hurd runs riot over the Iowa defense. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Jalen Hurd runs riot over the Iowa defense. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

On the day, the Vols made 27 first downs. Only 5 were from a 3rd down situation. It added up to 461 total yards, which included 283 yards on the ground, the second highest total of the season.

That last factoid was the most surprising to me. Tennessee ran the ball down the Hawkeyes’ throat, averaging 7.5 yards per carry at a point early in the fourth quarter before the game devolved into one where the Vols took the foot off the gas and refused to run up the score.

The ground game didn’t resemble anything that I’ve seen in Orange for a very long time… at least against quality, experienced opposition. It was powerful. It was efficient.

Leading the ground game charge was freshman Jalen Hurd, who carried the ball 16 times for 122 yards and 2 TDs. Many of those yards were made after broken tackles. He sat out most of the second half. And not to be outdone, QB Joshua Dobbs ran 13 times for 76 yards and 2 TDs.

Catching the ball stats were led by Von Pearson with 7 receptions, 75 yards, and 1 TD. But the most exciting catch was Vic Wharton’s lone reception that went 49 yards for a TD on the first play of that particular drive. It wasn’t the yardage so much as it was because Marlin Lane was the passer on that play — a little trickeration with the game still a game.

Meanwhile, a large percentage of Iowa’s 28 points and 346 yards were in the garbage time that was the fourth quarter. Before that, the Hawkeyes’ offense was stifled by a physical, disciplined Vols defensive unit that indicated they had long over come the absence of linebacker A. J. Johnson.


The win was Tennessee’s first postseason victory since beating Wisconsin in the 2008 Outback Bowl. And it capped the first winning season since 2009.

It was a sweet win for a program decimated by so many things over the past few years – a win that will certainly accomplish one thing if nothing else: expectations for the 2015 season will be through the roof, including, for some no doubt, winning the SEC East.

Personally, I’m not going to think about that for a while. I’m just going to bask in the glow that my Tennessee Volunteers performed perhaps the best of all its conference teams this bowl season.

That is progress. Significant progress.

Happy New Years and have a great offseason. Oh wait… there is no offseason in the Volunteer State!

Is today’s bowl game an important game to win?

Tennessee Volunteers vs Iowa Hawkeyes

2015 Gator Bowl | Jacksonville, FL | 3:20pm EST


Bowl games are exhibitions. But a win for the Vols today would mean a winning season, the first in what seems like forever. And that is very important… for recruiting, for the brand, for moving on to the 2015 season which in my mind will be a crucial season for the program.

iowa logo

It is very hard to get a read on this game because of several things, mostly the vast number of days it has been since either Iowa or Tennessee have played a football game.

On paper, especially because of their experience level, this game goes to Iowa.


But I think the X-factor goes to Tennessee. The Vols are building with unbridled enthusiasm. And that can overcome a lot of things. The Hawkeyes on the other hand are finishing what has been a very disappointing season – Iowa was a pre-season favorite to end up in the Big 10 Championship Game, which they didn’t get close to.

What directions two teams seem to be going when they play each other can have a large influence on the outcome.

Additionally, there is this important tidbit to consider: the Vols will be wearing their orange jerseys.

And, this is the 50th bowl appearance for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Put it in the bank: Tennessee 27 Iowa 24

Go Vols! 

What have the Vols’ opponents done this season?


  • Utah State (9-4)
  • Arkansas State (7-5)
  • Chattanooga (9-3) FCS Div I-AA Southern Conf. Winner
  • South Carolina (6-6)
  • Kentucky (5-7)
  • Vanderbilt (3-9)


  • #18 Oklahoma (8-3) Plays 5-6 Oklahoma State Saturday
  • #15 Georgia (9-3)
  • Florida (6-5)
  • #13 Mississippi (9-3)
  • #1 Alabama (11-1) SEC West Champs
  • #14 Missouri (10-2) SEC East Champs

AP rankings are shown.

Are you feeling positive or negative?

Tennessee 24  Vanderbilt 17

It was ugly. It was infuriating at times. And it left you wanting a lot of what we obviously don’t have.

But the bottom line is that the Tennessee Volunteers are going to a bowl game for the first time since the 2010 season.

Orange bowling pins

That in and of itself is enough for me to feel (somewhat) positive.

How are you feeling?

What kind of win will this be for Tennessee?

Tennessee at Vanderbilt

Saturday November 29, 2014 | Nashville | 4:00 ET | SECN

Except for the last two seasons, Tennessee has had a nearly embarrassing amount of success against its in-state rival Vanderbilt. What is surprising is how many of these games have been close even when the two teams were far apart in talent and season records.

Sure, Tennessee has beaten Vanderbilt by scores of 65-0, 48-0, 45-0, 41-0, 38-0, etc.

But there have been the surprising close games…

The 1951 National Championship season comes to mind, during which, on December 1, the Vols hosted the Commodores. Tennessee needed a victory to achieve another unbeaten regular season and have a shot at being voted the national champion. Vandy was only 6-4, ready to embark on a 6-decade long age of futility (Vandy had only 6 losing seasons up to 1951, but it would suffer greatly by only having 11 winning seasons after 1951).

The Vols hung on for a 35-27 win and the ultimate glory.

Since that game, Vandy defeated Tennessee 8 times whereas the Volunteers won 53 of those games against the Commodores, many being by very close scores.

But all that matters is what is happening right now.

Vanderbilt is sitting on a two-game winning streak against its biggest rival – the first time that the Commodores have defeated the Vols in consecutive seasons since 1926 (the year Vandy won its 6th straight over Tennessee).

And Butch Jones desperately needs a win Saturday in Nashville in order to reach a bowl game invitation with the chance of achieving the first winning season since 2009.ut for the first time in three seasons, it looks like the natural order of all things Tennessee vs Vanderbilt is being restored, with the Vols improving and the Commodores devolving back to their place down in the bottom.

I’d like to predict an all-time rout by Tennessee, but I see this game as somewhere in the middle.

Go Vols.

Tennessee 39 Vanderbilt 23

Are blackouts a big deal to you?

Here is an excerpt from I find it concerning, because in this case I would never believe a word coming from the player, a coach, etc.


Tennessee sophomore cornerback Cameron Sutton came off the field and had to sit out a series during Saturday’s game against Missouri on Saturday night. Sutton made a somewhat startling revelation as to why during Monday’s media availability.

“I just blacked out,” Sutton said. “It happens from time to time. … This is the first time it’s ever happened in a game. They ran a couple of things on the sideline just to make sure I was OK, and I just got back out there.”

A Tennessee spokesperson said that Sutton would not have been allowed to return to the field if he were showing concussion symptoms, but did not provide any further comment Monday.

Sutton said he’s had the blackouts for some time, but wasn’t specific. They usually occur elsewhere other than the football field.

“It just happens throughout the course of the day,” Sutton said. “I might black out. I just keep walking and nothing ever happens. It’s the first time it’s ever happened in a game. But you know, I can’t let that stop me from going back out there and finishing the rest of the game. … It just happens from time to time. It doesn’t happen every day. For the two seconds it does happen, I just black out, come back, keep going about my business.”

Sutton said he doesn’t think it’s a big deal and said he doesn’t know why it happens.

“It’s not a problem at all,” Sutton said. “It just happens. I don’t think it’s an issue or anything like that. Nothing to be looked into or made a big deal out of .”

How ugly was that?

Missouri 29 Tennessee 21

If all football games were that ugly, I would have stopped watching football a long time ago.

That is not really a knock on either team’s will or desire. It’s just that the elegant side of football was completely missing Saturday night in Knoxville. What was left was ineffective offenses and hard-nosed defenses, with a truckload of mistakes thrown in for bad measure.

It was tedious to the point where I just wanted to leave my living room for long stretches of time.

But I suffered through the entire evening, glad that this was not the end of the season, not the end of Version 2.0 of Team 118.

Or better yet, perhaps we could nock it back a notch to something like Version 1.2.

That is a lot better than Version 1.0, which might have left us trying to avoid an 8 loss season next week in Nashville.

Instead, we have a nearly certain bowl bid awaiting after the Vols meet one of the worst Vandy teams in history.

Happy Thanksgiving indeed.

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