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.