Now that the University of Tennessee has lost 10 straight to Florida, the Volunteers and Gators are even.
Oh sure, Florida still has the edge in the all-time series between the Southeastern Conference rivals with 25 wins in 44 meetings.
However, the Gators’ current run of victories matches the one Tennessee put together in the early days for the longest in the history of the rivalry. The primary difference is that UT’s 10 straight wins were spread over 37 years, whereas the Gators have made winning this game an annual things for the last decade — so it only seems like forever since the Volunteers won one of these games.
As if they needed any more motivation for Saturday’s contest in Gainesville, Fla. (2:30 p.m., CBS).
"I'm here to win every game, so I don't really think about [the streak],” UT quarterback Josh Dobbs said Monday, according to the school’s athletics website. “You know, history's history. Our goal is to go out there and make new history this weekend. I play to win every game, and I'm excited to play [Florida] again.”
A look at the 10-game winning streaks Tennessee and Florida have produced against one another:
Tennessee 24, Florida 0
Florida 16, Tennessee 7
Tennessee 9, Florida 0
Florida 21, Tennessee 20
Tennessee 13, Florida 12
Florida 59, Tennessee 20
Tennessee 13, Florida 6
Florida 30, Tennessee 6
Tennessee 32, Florida 13
Florida 23, Tennessee 13
Tennessee 13, Florida 6
Florida 31, Tennessee 17
Tennessee 14, Florida 0
Florida 33, Tennessee 23
Tennessee 40, Florida 0
Florida 37, Tennessee 20
Tennessee 26, Florida 12
Florida 31, Tennessee 17
Tennessee 9, Florida 7
Florida 10, Tennessee 9
Florida’s average margin of victory in the last 10 games is 14 points (the average score is 29.1 to 15.2). Tennessee won the first 10 by an average of 10 points (15.3-5.6), which adjusting for offensive inflation in the game might be even more dominant.
Last year, the Volunteers came awfully close to ending Florida’s run at nine games. They led 9-0 at the start of the fourth quarter before allowing Florida to rally.
For what it’s worth, the Gators’ 10th straight loss to Tennessee, back in 1953, was a near miss (9-7). They scored a decisive 14-0 victory the next year — on the road, just as Tennessee will attempt to do this weekend.
“I don't really care about the win streak at all,” UT linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin said. “We can only focus on what we can do now. This is a new team. We've only got 12 guys that have ever been down there ... A lot of guys have never even played Florida. We're not really focused on that right now. We're just focused on being the best team that we can be."
Whether they admit or not, they no doubt would like to be good enough to beat Florida.
(Photo: Matthew S. DeMaria/Tennessee athletics)
The University of Tennessee has a rich, albeit scattered athletics history.
That’s about to change.
A UT Athletics Hall of Fame, which will incorporate the current Lady Vol Hall of Fame, will be created and the first class will be inducted next April in conjunction with the spring football game, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Wednesday.
"We'll induct a fairly large class of males, obviously, because we don't have any,'' Dave Hart, athletic director and vice chancellor, told the newspaper. "We'll continue to annually induct females as well.''
The Lady Vol Hall of Fame, created in 2001, currently has 73 members but has not inducted anyone since 2013, when discussions began on a project to honor the university’s entire athletics history. Currently, the various programs individually recognize All-Americans, retired numbers, etc. but there is no all-encompassing tribute to athletics achievement.
Hart told the News Sentinel that a location for a Hall of Fame building has yet to be chosen.
Butch Jones made football seem like a math problem Monday.
The University of Tennessee football coach reasoned that Saturday’s 31-24 double-overtime loss to Oklahoma at Neyland Stadium was a clear indication that the Volunteers continue to take steps in the right direction.
“We were one play away from victory,” Jones said. “Like we tell our players, two to three plays can define a game and four to six plays can define a season. I thought we had eight to 10 plays that defined this game.”
In English, the Volunteers (1-1) led 17-0 early in the second quarter and were up 17-3 at the start of the fourth. They allowed the Sooners to score two touchdowns in the final 8:20 of regulation, the second with 40 seconds remaining. After they opened overtime with an eight-yard touchdown run from Jalen Hurd they allowed Oklahoma to score two touchdowns of its own and failed to answer the second.
Heartbreaking as all of that was, Jones said it was a far cry from last season’s 34-10 loss at Oklahoma, a game he called “non-competitive.”
All things being equal, therefore, the way the third-year coach figures it, it all adds up in the Volunteers’ favor.
“I will tell you this: As a caretaker of Tennessee football, I refuse to allow any negativity to creep in or around our football program,” Jones said. “We have way too much positive going on, and we have to get some things corrected. We will work immediately to get those items corrected and continue to move forward.
“Just like in life, everything is how you look at it. Everything is how you perceive things.”
Yeah but numbers never lie. He can call it a positive – and believe it – but that won’t make it a victory, which is what many fans of the program counted on throughout much of that contest.
(Photo: Donald Page/Tennessee athletics)
Bristol Motor Speedway announced Thursday that “a few thousand tickets” for the Battle at Bristol football game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech will be available only at the racetrack for one day, Oct. 2. That same day an online ticket lottery will commence.
In each case, purchases will be limited to a maximum of four tickets.
The game, scheduled for Sept. 10, 2016, will take place at the track and is expected to draw more than 150,000 spectators.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, each school was allotted 40,000 tickets (Tennessee’s share is sold out) and the facility had another 70,000 to sell.
“There are a few tickets left,” speedway general manager Jerry Caldwell said, according to the newspaper. “We have held purposely to get to this point, that we could have some to sell locally and a lottery to offer others.”
From the News Sentinel:
The online ticket lottery, at BattleAtBristoltix.com, will run from Oct. 2 through Nov. 2. Track officials will pull names and fill orders from the lottery beginning Nov. 3. Fans can choose from $40, $50 or $80 tickets.
Allocation of the tickets sold on-site and through the ticket lottery will take place “in early 2016,” according to a press release. More than 150,000 fans are expected to attend the game.
“We’ll release the specific number,” Caldwell said. “We’re still putting some fine touches on some of the infield seating.
“(That will) make it fluctuate slightly, but it will be just north of 150,000.”
Caldwell added that the Oct 2 on-site sale is designed to be “loyal to our local customers.”
University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones said Wednesday that junior defensive tackle Danny O’Brien is suspended for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma – and possibly beyond – for an unspecified violation of team rules.
“It's ongoing, and we'll see,” Jones said. “We're going to support Dan through this whole deal, but there's just no timetable. I don't want to sit here and tell you it's one game. I don't want to sit here and tell you it's six games. It's going to be the ebb and flow and it could be ever-changing.”
O’Brien is a 6-foot-2, 301-pound nose tackle who started 12 games in 2014. He finished with 23 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and one sack. He had two tackles and a sack in this season’s opener against Bowling Green.
With him out, Jones conceded the Volunteers are “going to have some youth” on the defensive front for the matchup between ranked teams. Freshmen Shy Tuttle and Kahlil McKenzie will be considered to start and certainly will play.
“You know, I feel for Danny,” Jones said. “Danny has done some, you know, very good things in our football program. I've seen the progress that Danny has made since day one that we walked in the doors. So we are working through it with him.”
Senior wide receiver Pig Howard was suspended for the Bowling Green game due to a violation of team rules but has been restored to the lineup this week.
“I'm the caretaker of Tennessee Football and we have standards and expectations in our football program,” Jones said. “Everything is based on choices and there is consequences for your actions. Were never going to short change that, we're never going to take a back seat to that.”
(Photo: Donald Page/Tennessee athletics)
The University of Tennessee moved up two spots and the Southeastern Conference raised the bar for representation in The Associated Press college football rankings Tuesday.
Ten SEC teams are among the current Top 25.
That’s the most by any conference in the history of the poll. The SEC held the previous mark with eight.
The Volunteers improved two spots from the their preseason ranking to No. 23 following their 59-30 victory over Bowling Green at Nissan Stadium (they are also No. 23 in the coaches’ poll).
That makes this Saturday’s game against No. 19 Oklahoma (5 p.m., ESPN) the type of marquee matchup not seen at Neyland Stadium in a while. The last time UT played at home in a matchup of ranked teams was Sept. 15, 2012 against Florida. The last non-conference home game in which the Volunteers and their opponent were each ranked was Sept. 2, 2006 against Cal.
The Tennessee-Oklahoma game is one of three this weekend between ranked teams. One of the others is an SEC matchup, No. 14 LSU at No. 25 Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs are one of the two SEC teams that made it into the top 25 after being unranked in the preseason. The other is Texas A&M, which entered at No. 16.
Willie Martinez will be back on the field when the University of Tennessee hosts Oklahoma on Saturday.
It still will be a little while, though, before the Volunteers defensive backs coach gets back on the recruiting trail.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported Sunday that Martinez is prohibited from off-campus recruiting for the first 30 days of the September 2015 evaluation period and the first five days of the November-December 2015 contact period because of a Level III violation of NCAA rules. Martinez also was suspended from the season-opening victory over Bowling Green.
The News Sentinel’s report was based on documents released by the university. It said the penalties are due to the fact that Martinez had impermissible contact with a recruit on May 21, 2014, a time when college coaches may watch recruits but not have contact with them.
According to the story, UT self-reported the violation in a letter from director of compliance Matt Hibbs to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.
According to the letter, Martinez was one of several college coaches who were in the football coaches' office at the high school in question. At one point, Martinez excused himself from the office, and encountered the athlete in question during that period. During Tennessee's investigation of the incident, the letter said, it was not able to determine the length of the encounter and obtained responses from other coaches present that said the meeting lasted anywhere from 2-3 minutes to 20-30.
The letter also said the student in question was one of two UT targets at the time but no one from the program contacted the student after that meeting.
"I will tell you this, there isn't anybody who hurts more right now than Willie Martinez," coach Butch Jones said following Saturday's game. "I think we all know Willie has impeccable character."
In addition to the specific sanctions against Martinez, the program received a 10-day reduction of evaluation days next spring, the News Sentinel reported. Every time a coach leaves campus to evaluate a recruit it is considered an evaluation day. So if three coaches go out the same day it counts as three days.
Programs are allowed 168 evaluation days from April 15-May 31, 2016. UT will be allowed 158.
The only thing that stopped the University of Tennessee’s offense for any period of time Saturday at Nissan Stadium was a weather delay that interrupted play for a time in the third quarter.
In terms of total offense, this was a close game (UT 604, BGSU 557) but it was the Volunteers that found ways to score throughout the contest as evidenced by the fact that they had at least 10 points in all four quarters.
A closer look at some of the players and plays that made a difference:
TENNESSEE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jalen Hurd, sophomore, running back
There were plenty of notable performers on the offense but Hurd was the one who set the tone with his three touchdown runs. His first (from eight yards) put the Volunteers up 7-3. They never trailed after that, but things got close. It was a one-point game, 21-20, when Hurd scored his third touchdown, this one from 13 yards out. He also had a one-yard scoring run.
He finished with 123 yards on 23 carries and teamed with Alvin Kamara (15 rushes, 144 yards) to become the first pair of UT backs since 2009 to top 100 yards rushing in the same game. Hurd also topped 1,000 yards rushing for his college career.
Honorable mention: Ethan Wolf, TE – He scored the last touchdown of the first half (24 seconds to go) and the first of the second half (3:43 after halftime), both of which pushed the lead to 15 points; Jalen Reeves-Mabin, LB – He had a team-high nine tackles, including two tackles for losses and one sack, and he recovered a fumble; Alvin Kamara, RB – He became the UT running back since Bryce Brown in 2009 to rush for more than 100 yards in his Volunteers’ debut.
Cameron Sutton’s 47-yard punt return in the first quarter
The defense followed up the offense’s first touchdown with a three-and-out. Then Sutton (pictured) set up the offense at the Bowling Green 30 and set the stage for what turned out to be a big day. The junior defensive back averaged 34 yards on three punt returns. All three returns ended up deep in Bowling Green territory and each set up a touchdown by the offense.
Honorable mention: Brian Randolph’s blocked field goal with 10:02 to play in the third quarter – At that point any Bowling Green rally seemed unlikely. Reeves-Mabin’s fumble recovery late in the third quarter – BGSU had driven inside the UT 5 and had a chance to get within 11.
THEY SAID IT
• “You heard me talk about all last year is that great teams are able to play complementary football. Offense, defense, special teams. I thought (Saturday) we were able to play some complementary football and possess the football when we needed to to give our defense a rest." – Butch Jones, on the overall play of his team.
• “That's pretty awesome. It's great. We're just trying to rep and do everything we can to do awesome for the Tennessee Vols and get this team to a championship.” –Hurd, on the fact that he and Kamara became the first pair of UT running backs since 2009 to each rush for 100 yards in the same game.
• "It wasn't all doom and gloom. A couple explosive plays here and there, actually quite a few, but we also had some good PBU's, good pass breakups. We didn't get the pick like we wanted to. But we had a lot of contested passes." –Randolph, on the play of the secondary.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS
A win is a win. And for a team that is still in the process of rebuilding, there is a huge difference between 1-0 and 0-1.
However, there are serious issues in the secondary that need to be addressed – and quickly – if this team wants to win a whole lot more this season. Bowling Green threw it 51 times without an interception and its top five in receptions all averaged 15 yards per catch or more. On top of that, the Falcons converted all three of their fourth-down attempts.
It was not perfect on offense or special teams either. Penalties negated two touchdowns and helped keep the Volunteers from taking control sooner than they did. Kicker Aaron Medley missed two of three field goal attempts.
If things are not better this Saturday against Oklahoma, it might be UT that allows 50-some points.
(Photo: Donald Page/UT athletics)
It was considered one of the most memorable games of the University of Tennessee’s 2014 football season.
And the Volunteers did not even win.
So there’s a chance the whole ‘Checker Neyland’ thing can be a bigger success the second time around.
UT officials formally announced Wednesday that this season’s first home game, Sept. 12 against Oklahoma, would be the second attempt to have fans at Neyland Stadium replicate the famed end zone checkerboard pattern in the seats. Ticket holders are asked to wear white or orange, depending on where they sit and the effect is certainly eye-catching.
The school has created a website for ticket holders to check which color they should wear to this year’s game.
The inaugural ‘Checker Neyland’ contest was Oct. 4, 2014 when the University of Florida played in Knoxville.
The Volunteers dropped that one 10-9, which capped a run of three straight defeats that started with a 34-10 loss at Oklahoma.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Andrew Butcher, a freshman defensive lineman for the University of Tennessee, was arrested early Sunday when police officers found him intoxicated and running around on Interstate 40.
A four-star recruit and Under Armour All-American out of Alpharetta, Ga., Butcher was charged with public intoxication, underage possession of alcohol and violating a controlled access roadway, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. Arraignment was set for Sept. 10 in Sessions Court.
“We are aware of the situation involving Andrew Butcher and this matter will be handled internally,” UT athletic department spokesman Ryan Robinson told the newspaper, via text message.
From the News Sentinel:
Records state an officer responding to a complaint of someone exhibiting drunken behavior on I-40 found Butcher “running around on 40 East near James White Parkway.”
Butcher told the arresting officer he had been drinking beer, according to records.
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