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.
It is unknown where Tennessee will be playing in the bowl season, but what is known is wide receiver Jauan Jennings will not play in the first half of the game. The SEC announced on Wednesday that Jennings will be suspended for the first half of Tennessee’s to-be-determined bowl game as a result of his stepping on a Vanderbilt player on the sideline last weekend.
According to a release from the sEC, Jennings was suspended under NCAA Playing Rule 9-6-2. The rule states “If subsequent review of a game by a conference reveals plays involving flagrant personal fouls that game officials did not call, the conference may impose sanctions prior to the next scheduled game.”
Video shows Jennings stepped on Vanderbilt’s Justice Shelton-Mosley on the sideline at the end of a play in last weekend’s game between the Vols and Commodores. There could be some different interpretations of whether or not Jennings intentionally stepped on his opponent, but the SEC certainly felt there was some malicious intent with the stomp. Jennings was not flagged for a personal foul for the incident, which is why the SEC defended the first-half suspension issued on Sunday. You can see video of the incident in question below…
Jennings is Tennessee’s leading receiver with 942 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Not having him for one half is certainly a tough blow for the Vols in whatever their upcoming bowl matchup will be. This, of course, assumes Jennings actually plays in the bowl game anyway. With an NFL future, don’t be shocked if Jennings follows the growing trend of sitting out the bowl season, thus not having to worry about the suspension anyway.
Tennessee may not have been able to beat Georgia State, but they are currently giving No. 3 Georgia a good battle in Knoxville. But Tennessee has fallen behind Georgia late in the first half, 26-14, thanks to a pair of Jake Fromm touchdown passes late in the second quarter.
Georgia did strike first with a precise 12-play drive on their first offensive series of the game. D’Andre Swift capped the drive with a short touchdown run. Georgia had just one third down on the entire drive, with Swift converting a 3rd-and-1 with a four-yard run. But Tennessee had a quick answer when Brian Maurer connected with Marquez Callaway for a 73-yard score to give a much-needed jolt to the Vols fans packed into Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee took a 14-10 lead on their next series. Maurer again did the honors in finishing off the drive with a touchdown pass. This time it was a much more conventional 12-yard play to Jauan Jennings to regain the lead after a Georgia field goal.
Tennessee was just a few minutes away from going to halftime up 14-13, but instead, this game is firmly under control by Georgia with 30 minutes to play. Georgia took a 20-14 lead with 1:59 left in the half. After some terrific efforts by Jauan Jennings to move the Vols down the field late in the half, Tennessee missed a field goal with enough time for the Bulldogs to score once more. Fromm completed a pass to George Pickens for one last score with nine seconds left in the half.
And with that, Georgia is well on its way to another win against the Vols.
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.
No. 14 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) brought an end to an 11-game losing streak to No. 19 Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) in resounding fashion Saturday afternoon in Neyland Stadium. Down 21-0 in the first half, Tennessee roared back with 38 straight points en route to a wild 38-28 victory in a key SEC East battle.
The phrase “tale of two halves” gets thrown around a lot, sometimes more than necessary, but there was simply no way to describe what just happened in a checkered-out Neyland Stadium. The Vols looked lost and sloppy in the first half of the game, shooting themselves in the feet twice inside the Florida 10-yard line with nothing to show for it. But the second half was a reversal of fortune, as the Vols defense started getting off the field quickly and the offense started clicking. Joshua Dobbs shrugged off an awful first half and came back to lead the charge with four touchdown passes in the second half, and one more on the ground just for good measure. Dobbs was Tennessee’s second-leading rusher (behind Jalen Hurd) on top of passing for over 300 yards against the Gators.
Tennessee took the lead on a play that appeared to be eerily similar to a key play from a year ago. Dobbs found a wide-open Jauan Jennings down the right side of the field for an easy touchdown. The score gave the Vols the lead. It was a long passing play last season that saw Florida take the lead on the Vols when it appeared a victory was in hand for Tennessee.
The Vols tacked on more to put the game in he win column, of course. The defense picked off a pass from Austin Appleby on Florida’s first play of the ensuing drive and that was quickly turned into a touchdown. Florida then had to punt after three plays on the next drive, and the Vols scored four plays later. The momentum had swung back to Tennessee and never returned to the Gators’ sideline, even after a 16-play touchdown drive. Nothing was stopping Tennessee at this point, as Florida’s frustration boiled over so much, Brandon Powell was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter for throwing a punch.
Trying to figure out what this means for Tennessee going forward is a bit of a tricky proposition. That is because you just don’t really know which Tennessee was closer to the real Tennessee. The SEC East is most definitely their’s to take this year, with a head-to-head tiebreaker with Florida in the fold and Georgia looking abysmal on the road earlier in the day in a blowout loss at Ole Miss. Tennessee will get a chance to seize complete control of the division next week when they head to Athens to take on those Georgia Bulldogs. A win there and the SEC East crown should be pretty easy to claim, although the Vols still have a road trip to Texas A&M and a home game against Alabama after that Georgia game, so there is no easy path to the SEC East just yet.
And with a challenging schedule ahead of them in conference play the next few weeks, Florida is not out of the picture just yet. The Gators get no easy games with LSU and Arkansas in cross-division play, but a game at Vanderbilt next week offers a chance to bounce back before hosting LSU and Missouri and then taking on Georgia in Jacksonville. Florida can remain in the hunt, but the margin for error has been reduced as a result of this one.