Jarrett Guarantano

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Tennessee storms back to stun Indiana in Gator Bowl

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Tennessee (8-5) overcame a 16-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to edge Indiana (8-5) in the Gator Bowl Thursday night in Jacksonville. Two touchdowns within 30 seconds of each other pushed the Vols out in front, 23-22, and Indiana’s long field goal attempt to regain the lead in the final minutes fell no good. Jeremy Pruitt won his first bowl game as head coach of the Vols, while Indiana’s bowl win drought drags on for another year.

After sitting out the first half to serve a suspension, Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings entered the game after halftime. Any hope of Jennings providing a spark for the Vols seemingly faded as Jarrett Guarantano was intercepted by Jamar Johnson on Tennessee’s third play of the second half (after Indiana scored a go-ahead touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter). Johnson returned the interception 63 yards for a touchdown, giving Indiana a 16-6 lead after a missed extra point attempt. Jennings ended the game with two receptions for 27 yards.

Tennessee pulled closer with a field goal on the next possession and came closer with a long touchdown drive with Quavis Crouch running form the one-yard line to bring the Vols within six points. Indiana was not prepared for an onside kick, which was recovered easily by Tennessee, and Eric Gray gave the Vols the 23-22 lead with a 16-yard touchdown run up the middle of the Indiana defense.

Tennessee had opportunities to build a big lead in the first half but managed to score just six points on three red-zone trips. Indiana had a turnover on downs and the Vols settled for two field goals on their other trips, allowing Indiana to hang around at halftime. Indiana dominated the third quarter with a 16-3 advantage in the third quarter to take a 19-6 lead into the fourth quarter.

The win by Tennessee improved the SEC to 7-2 this bowl season, easily the best bowl record among all conferences this bowl season. The SEC is 2-1 against the ACC (with LSU facing Clemson in the national championship game), 3-0 against the Big 12 and 2-1 against the Big Ten. The Big Ten closes out its postseason with a 4-5 record with losing records to the SEC and Pac-12 (1-2) and drawing even with the ACC (1-1).

Indiana will open the 2020 season with a Big Ten opener in Madison. The Hoosiers visit reigning Big Ten West Division champion Wisconsin on Sept. 5 to begin the new season. Indiana will host Western Kentucky in their home opener the following week on Sept. 12.

Tennessee will open its 2020 season at home against Charlotte on Sept. 5. The Vols travel to Oklahoma the following week and close out September with a home game against Florida.

Tennessee can’t put Indiana away, leading 6-3 at halftime in Gator Bowl

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For as one-sided as the box score looks at halftime in the Gator Bowl, you would think Tennessee would be sitting in a much more comfortable spot at the break. Such is not the case as the Vols lead Indiana just 6-3 at halftime in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

Tennessee out-gained Indiana 202-69 and forced a turnover by the Hoosiers, but Indiana’s defense has found ways to limit the damage in a big way on defense. Indiana created a turnover on downs at the Indiana two-yard line after the Vols took over with an interception by Shawn Shamburger off Indiana’s Peyton Ramsey. Tennessee was forced to settle for a field goal on their next possession, staling this time at the Indiana six-yard line. A third red-zone trip would once again end with a field goal by Brent Cimaglia on Tennessee’s next possession.

Indiana has rushed the football nine times for a total of six yards. Ramsey has completed eight of 13 passes for 37 yards with an interception. Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano has passed for 130 yards. One thing to keep in mind is Tennessee will get wide receiver Jauan Jennings in the second half. Jennings was suspended for the first half of the game due to his sideline incident in the regular seaosn-finale against Vanderbilt.

It certainly feels as though Tennessee is fit to win a defensive battle, but Indiana hanging around could be scary for the Vols.

Tennessee leading BYU at halftime in Knoxville

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A week after a humbling loss at home, Tennessee knew they wanted to get on the scoreboard early against BYU. And they did. The Vols also hold the lead on BYU at halftime in Neyland Stadium, 13-3.

After BYU opened the game with a drive that end ed with a punt, the Vols offense went to work to get an early lead. Not content to settle for a field goal, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt opted to go for it on a 4th & 3 on the BYU five-yard line, and it paid off. Jarrett Guarantano completed a five-yard pass to Jauan Jennings for a touchdown and the first points of the game. BYU would answer with a field goal on the ensuing possession.

The Vols tacked on a 51-yard field goal by Brent Cimaglia to add to their lead in the second quarter, and one more 39-yard field goal just before the end of the first half to build the lead to 10 points.

There may not have been as much improvement from Tennessee as fans may have hoped to see so far, and this game is very much still up in the air going to the second half. But the Volunteers have avoided turning the football over and the defense has held BYU to negative rushing yardage. Can Tennessee keep this going and avoid a second straight tough loss at home to start the year? We’ll find out in the second half.

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list includes 2018 finalist Shea Patterson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert

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And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).

Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).

2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith

  • Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
  • Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
  • Woody Barrett, Kent State
  • Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
  • Anthony Brown, Boston College
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri
  • Joe Burrow, LSU
  • Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
  • Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
  • K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
  • Jacob Eason, Washington University
  • Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Mason Fine, North Texas
  • Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
  • Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
  • Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
  • Quentin Harris, Duke University
  • Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
  • Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
  • Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
  • Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
  • Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
  • D’Eriq King, Houston
  • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
  • Jordan Love, Utah State University
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State University
  • Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane
  • Steven Montez, University of Colorado
  • James Morgan, FIU
  • Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
  • Kato Nelson, Akron
  • Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
  • Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
  • Malcolm Perry, Navy
  • Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
  • Armani Rogers, UNLV
  • Nathan Rourke, Ohio
  • Anthony Russo, Temple University
  • J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
  • Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
  • Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
  • Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
  • Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
  • Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
  • Brady White, University of Memphis
  • Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
  • Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida

Tennessee upsets No. 21 Auburn for first road win vs SEC West team since 2007

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It’s been a long time coming, but Tennessee (3-3, 1-2 SEC) finally got a chance to celebrate a win in SEC play with a road 30-24 win against No. 21 Auburn (4-3, 1-3). Auburn had three turnovers, including one fumble returned for a touchdown by Tennessee, and a missed field goal in a disappointing showing at home that will drop Auburn out of the rankings and pretty much eliminates Auburn from the SEC title hunt already.

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano passed for over 300 yards and two touchdowns to fuel the Tennessee offense on the road. It was the first time this season Guarantano had more than 172 yards in a game and came one game after throwing two touchdowns without an interception against Georgia on the road.

The Tennessee win brought an end to a handful of streaks within conference play as well. The win was Tennessee’s first in SEC play since beating Vanderbilt on November 19, 2016, snapping a 11-game losing streak in SEC play. It was the first road SEC win since October 1, 2016 at Georgia. It had been even longer since Tennessee enjoyed beating a team from the SEC West, and even longer since doing so on the road. Before today, Tennessee’s last win against the SEC came against Ole Miss on November 13, 2010, and the last road win against the SEC West was on October 13, 2007 against Mississippi State.

The win was Tennessee’s first over Auburn since October 2, 1999. The last time Tennessee won a road game at Auburn was the previous season on October 3, 1998. Tennessee had lost six consecutive games against Auburn before their win today.

The loss sinks Auburn to their third loss in the SEC. In a division that also includes Alabama (and LSU), the chances the Tigers make a return trip to the SEC Championship Game are just about gone for good. Auburn still gets a crack at Alabama in the Iron Bowl, but Auburn will also have to play at Georgia and hope Alabama stumbles twice before their Iron Bowl meeting just for the scenario to present itself for Auburn. And that’s very unlikely to happen. The loss could also have an impact on Washington, who lost to Auburn in the season opener. If the Tigers don’t turn things around, that loss loses some of its quality argument for the Pac-12 favorite Huskies down the line, if it hasn’t already.

Tennessee now returns home with a win in SEC play in their pocket. The only problem is next week’s opponent just so happens to be No. 1 Alabama so the good vibes may not be rolling for too long. Nick Saban has yet to lose a game against one of his former assistants, which means it will be up to Jeremy Pruitt to find a way to break that streak. Daniel Bituli, who was ejected for targeting in the second half, will miss the first half of next week’s game against the Crimson Tide.

Auburn, now already three games back in the loss column in the SEC West, will look to break a two-game losing streak in conference play with a road trip to Ole Miss next week.