We finally made it.
Through the good and the bad, this is the last stop on our trip down memory lane, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reliving it all as much as I have. Through the crippling, relentless sadness of the 2015 football season, to the two weeks in the 2016 season we were on top of the world. From embarrassing Big 10 teams in bowl games, to the heartbreak of bowing out of the NCAA Tournament against Loyala-Chicago.
And all of us, as Vol fans, are still Vol fans. WE STILL OUT HERE.
Georgia, Basketball, 2018
In Feb. 2018, Tennessee limped out of Athens with a loss to the Bulldogs. It was a crucial loss late in the season that severely hampered Tennessee’s chances of winning its first SEC Regular Season Title since 2008.
The rematch a few weeks later was for all the marbles. Win, and Tennessee gets a share of the title. Lose, and they get nothing.
Tennessee trailed for the majority of the game, and it was starting to look like Georgia’s five-game winning streak against Tennessee would continue. But a strong second half from Tennessee on the defensive end of the floor led to Georgia only scoring 19 second-half points. Meanwhile, Lamonte Turner and Admiral Schofield were lighting it up on offense.
The dagger came in the final minute when Schofield got the ball near the top of the key. With the score sitting at 62-61 Tennessee, Schofield grabbed the reins and led his team to the promised land. He dribbled, he spun, he faded, and nailed one of the prettiest shots Thompson-Boling Arena has seen in a long time. He followed his circus shot with two more free throws to close out the game, and Tennessee finished on a 9-0 run.
In one of the most improbable basketball seasons in recent memory, lowly Tennessee, who was picked to finish 13th in the preseason polls, had won the SEC title.
Final: Tennessee 66, Georgia 61
Auburn, Football, 2018
The Tennessee-Auburn rivalry is one of the most official unofficial rivalries in college sports. Every time the two schools meet, in any sport, it seems like there winds up being talking points after the game.
This game was no different.
In Jeremy Pruitt’s first season in charge of the Vols, Tennessee was struggling to get really anything going against Power 5 teams. They had lost by a combined score of 125-47 in their first three Power 5 games. To make matters worse, it looked like the trend would continue after a road game against top-25 Auburn.
It did not, thanks to one of Jarrett Guarantano’s best games as a Vol and some of the best team defense Tennessee had played in years. It also didn’t help that Pruitt knew what play was coming before the ball was even snapped.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is a defensive mind, right?
Watch this play from Auburn’s final offensive drive.
At the beginning, you can hear Pruitt yell “BAYLEN IT’S COMING TO YOUR GUY!”
Sure enough… pic.twitter.com/n0G10pTLMq
— Caleb Noe (@wvltCaleb) October 16, 2018
Final: Tennessee 30, Auburn 24
Kentucky, Football, 2018
Tennessee’s 2018 season didn’t exactly flip around after the above win against Auburn. They followed it up with a shellacking at the hands of Alabama, a disappointing loss to South Carolina, and a sleeper against lowly Charlotte. So, of course, when Kentucky came to town in the middle of their best football season ever, they would extend their win streak over Tennessee in football to two games.
Just kidding, Tennessee doesn’t lose to Kentucky in football. And if they do, it hasn’t happened twice since the first year Jimmy Carter was in office and You Light Up My Life by Debby Boone was No. 1 on the charts. I don’t even know who the hell that is, and I like to think I listen to a lot of music.
It was the Tennessee defense’s turn to be dominant in this upset of a top-25 team. Darrell Taylor went buck wild with four sacks, while the rest of the defense bottled up two-time All-SEC running back Benny Snell, only allowing 85 yards rushing on 34 attempts. Kentucky would score a garbage time touchdown with less than two minutes left, but by then, it was too late.
Final: Tennessee 24, Kentucky 7
Kentucky, Basketball, 2019 (x2)
A two-for-one. The perfect way to end this series.
Pick either one of the Tennessee wins over Kentucky in basketball to go on this list, because they were both really, really enjoyable.
In one, it was a dominant win to avenge a humiliating loss just a few weeks earlier. In a rare top-10 match up in Thompson-Boling Arena, Tennessee dismantled the favored Wildcats in almost every facet of the game. Grant Williams and Jordan Bone both had days to remember, scoring 24 and 27, respectively. A breakaway dunk from The Admiral put an exclamation point on one of the most lopsided Tennessee wins in the history of the Tennessee-Kentucky rivalry.
In the other, it was a knockdown, drag-out game in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. The rubber match between these two teams was fantastic and stressful for everyone involved. Kentucky was in control for most of the second half with Tennessee struggling on offense. But a late combined seven points from Turner and Bone iced the game away, giving Tennessee its second consecutive berth in the SEC Tournament final.