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Tennessee wrap-up: Thinned-out Vol team no match for the Tide machine

Tennessee wrap-up: Thinned-out Vol team no match for the Tide machine

Alabama smacked Tennessee around 49-10 in Knoxville on Saturday in a game that could have been far worse if Jalen Hurts hadn’t made two poor decisions under pressure that resulted in what was probably either a 10- or 14-point swing. As is, the beatdown was bad enough. A Tennessee program that has clearly held Alabama up as a measuring stick instead got caned by that same stick. The Volunteers’ patented second-half comeback never came, and Alabama used the second half only to pad its own lead – Alabama outscored Tennessee 28-3 after halftime – and turn the last few minutes of the game into a second-team scrimmage.

UT preview: If pressure makes perfect, Vols won’t hit many wrong notes

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UT preview: If pressure makes perfect, Vols won’t hit many wrong notes

There is no question which team is coming into this game more charged up. It’s Tennessee, and had the Volunteers not lost in agonizing fashion to Texas A&M in overtime last week, the Vols might have come into this game so amped-up that you could have plugged the entire eastern seaboard into Neyland Stadium and it would have stayed lit for a month.

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Previews 2016: Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt

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Previews 2016: Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt

Missouri s is a team with an anemic offense and a defense that must always overachieve… South Carolina is a team in crisis … Questions remain about the Vols’ Butch Jones’ coaching ability and the ability of QB Joshua Dobbs … Vandy’s Mason likely won’t be around to coach the team in 2017 and beyond.

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Tennessee wrap-up: Bama squeezes Big Orange hearts with late win

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Tennessee wrap-up: Bama squeezes Big Orange hearts with late win

A game like this was almost expected, the result of Alabama being faced, week after week, with a gauntlet of rested teams, thanks to the SEC office’s inability (or lack of desire) to address unfair scheduling practices.

And in this case, the Crimson Tide nearly paid the price for the circumstances outside its control.

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Tennessee preview: Vols could be a tougher foe than Bama expects

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Tennessee preview: Vols could be a tougher foe than Bama expects

Every season, one or two teams seem to rise above their typical watermarks and give Alabama a tougher game than it would otherwise appear on paper.

Alabama is hoping Ole Miss filled the role in Week 3, but in 2009, that team was Tennessee, then led by a young head coach named Lane Kiffin. It took two blocked field goals by DT Terrence Cody, the second coming as time ran out, for Alabama to hold onto the win and eventually play for a national championship.

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Previews 2015: Tennessee Volunteers

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Previews 2015: Tennessee Volunteers

Between a heavy concentration of returning starters, improved recruiting and some of the best offensive skill talent in the conference, Tennessee is hoping it can finally lift itself out of the doldrums it’s been in for at least the last eight seasons. Roughly from the time Nick Saban arrived at Alabama, Tennessee has been irrelevant in the SEC. The 2015 Volunteer team is still not perfect; the offensive line, while experienced, wasn’t good in 2014, the defense has some holes up the middle and the book is still out on Butch Jones as both an x’s-and-o’s coach and a program leader. But things are looking up.

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2014 Previews: Tennessee Volunteers

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2014 Previews: Tennessee Volunteers

If win-loss records were determined by bravado and bull hockey, Tennessee’s Butch Jones would have a team in the national title game every year. Jones has done a good job selling the illusion of improvement, but the Vols had better hope he can continue to recruit well – because success in the present day isn’t coming. Tennessee might have the league’s worst offensive and defensive lines simultaneously, certainly a first for this program and maybe the first for any SEC program not named Vanderbilt. Aside from a few bright spots at receiver and an above-average linebacker corps, Tennessee doesn’t have much. Hitting .500 this season would be a major accomplishment.

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Tennessee wrap-up: Vols have found out how the other half lives

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Tennessee wrap-up: Vols have found out how the other half lives

For a period of time about 15 years ago or so, the SEC football world revolved around Florida and Tennessee.

Phil Fulmer had built the Volunteers into a powerhouse, putting out NFL players left and right and – at least in years he could get by Steve Spurrier’s Florida team – annually threatening the top of the AP and Coaches’ polls. In addition, Tennessee enjoyed a cozy relationship with the SEC office, and there was little hiding the fact that Tennessee wanted to consign Alabama to the SEC’s second tier, or worse.

Funny what a difference a decade makes.

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2013 Fall Previews: Tennessee Volunteers

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2013 Fall Previews: Tennessee Volunteers

The Derek Dooley era is over in Knoxville, but the aftereffects of his regime will continue to be felt for at least a couple of years. Tennessee comes into 2013 at a severe talent disadvantage to most of its rivals, and is also both changing its defensive scheme and rebuilding on offense. Were it not for the lucky accident of having the most talented offensive line in the conference, Tennessee would be a candidate to lose 10 or 11 games. As it is, the Volunteers will have to scratch to equal last year’s 5-7 mark, and will need at least two significant upsets to get bowl-eligible. Add to this the uncertainty of just how good new coach Butch Jones really is, and the Vols could be on their way to the SEC East cellar once again.

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