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What We Learned From Tennessee’s 30-24 Win At Auburn

Well, well, well. It looks like there’s still some life in this Tennessee team after all. With the 30-24 win over No. 21 Auburn on Saturday, Tennessee’s overall record improves to 3-3 halfway through the season. The win was a pleasant surprise, coming in the middle of a brutal four-game stretch for the Vols. It also ended more streaks and trends than I could keep track of, all of which were bad.

Needless to say, there were plenty of takeaways from this game for Tennessee going forward. Here are a few of the big ones:

Tennessee’s Receiving Corps Is DEEP

All due credit to Jarrett Guarantano. He silenced a lot of haters with his performance. But most of the big plays he produced were toss up passes where his receivers went up and made fantastic catches.

And boy, were there some fantastic catches.

Even better than that, it wasn’t just one or two guys making great plays. Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway, and Josh Palmer all had exceptional catches at some point in the game. Add in Ty Chandler coming out of the backfield and a serviceable group of tight ends, and Guarantano just needs to make throws close and he’ll have to like his chances.

Winning The Turnover Battle Is Fun

The turnover battle was without a doubt one of the biggest reasons for Tennessee’s win. Tennessee’s defense played better than usual for most of the day, forcing two interceptions, three fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Going against a team like Auburn that is known for its offense is never easy, but when you can force three turnovers and not have any on offense, it’s going to help. Especially when one of those turnovers turns into a touchdown.

Tennessee also forced two sacks and four tackles for loss on the day, which has been consistent with their production against Power 5 teams this season.

Given how Tennessee has struggled with turnovers against UTEP and Florida, it must be nice to be on the right side of the turnover column in a big game.

There Is Still Hope For This Season

Most Tennessee fans, myself included, were starting to wonder if we could avoid going 3-9 after a rough couple of games against West Virginia and Florida. The Georgia game was slightly reassuring, but it was still a loss on the schedule. Now, after a great win on the road at Auburn, anything feels possible with this team. Was Jeremy Pruitt’s history with Auburn to thank? Or the bye week the weekend before? Maybe it was the fact that Auburn is currently reeling and trying to figure out how to win again?

Who cares.

Sitting at 3-3 halfway through the year, the preseason goal of reaching a bowl game is starting to look like a possibility again. All Tennessee has to do is find three more wins between Alabama, South Carolina, Charlotte, Kentucky, Mizzou, and Vanderbilt. Given how the team as a whole looked on Saturday, that could actually happen.

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