Tennessee Football’s Story in 2016: Vols Constantly Teased Fans
Tennessee football’s 8-4 record in 2016 was one of constantly getting Volunteers fans’ hopes up, only to crush them in the blink of an eye.
There’s really no other way to describe this season. Every time Tennessee football fans got excited about something in 2016, the Vols constantly ruined their dreams.
And that is the story of 2016.
It started out with the Vols in the Top 10. With so many people back, this was the year they would win the SEC East and compete for championships. And that was tested early on.
Tennessee needed overtime to beat the Appalachian State Mountaineers in the first game.
However, as the injury bug began to bite over the next few weeks, they kept fans calm. They blew out a Virginia Tech Hokies team that turned out to be pretty good, and although they struggled with the Ohio Bobcats, nobody was really worried.
Then came the Florida Gators. After a sloppy first half and a 21-3 deficit, Tennessee football erased years of frustration in one wonderful half. It was a glorious half, the best half of the season.
The Vols scored 35 straight and ended up winning the game 38-28. At 4-0, that win had Vols fans thinking about Atlanta.
Things got even better the next week. Tennessee followed up the Florida win with a Hail Mary to beat the Georgia Bulldogs on the road.
All of a sudden, Tennessee was 5-0 for the first time since 1998. They had beaten their two biggest division foes, Florida and Georgia. And they only had two more difficult teams left on the schedule: Texas A&M and Alabama.
At that point, Tennessee football was thinking that it had the East locked up. The College Football Playoff was now the dream. Split these two games, and you’re in the running down the stretch.
Well, after coming back all year, the Vols gave fans their first tease against Texas A&M. They came back from a 28-7 deficit against the Aggies to force overtime. But seven turnovers and a slew of injuries on defense cost them.
That loss became a killer because Alabama was next. With so many injuries by that point, the Vols stood no chance against the Tide and lost 49-10.
In two weeks, the College Football Playoff dreams were crushed and the Vols were technically out of the SEC East race.
But after a bye week to get healthy, things were looking up again. Everybody knew it was a matter of when, not if, Florida would lose its next SEC game. And Tennessee did not play one ranked team down the stretch.
The upsets happening also put them back in the playoff race.
This was their year.
But they managed to blow it quickly. On the first Saturday night after a bye week, Joshua Dobbs had the worst game of his career. The Vols were shocked by the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Now, the playoff was out. The East was likely out. And the season was turning into a loss.
But Vols fans weren’t done being teased.
Just when you thought everything was over, the Florida Gators lost to the Arkansas Razorbacks the next week. All of a sudden, Tennessee was back in the SEC East race. They just needed Florida to lose to either South Carolina or LSU.
As the Vols kept winning, it came down to Florida at LSU. Surely, the Gators would lose to a far superior LSU team on the road.
But in the greatest tease of the year, LSU ended up disappointing Vols fans. Ed Orgeron choked away a game against the Gators. And he gave Florida the East.
Rather than panic, though, Vols fans regrouped. They dominated the Missouri Tigers.
And going into Saturday, a new possibility was up: the Sugar Bowl. In order for that to happen, the Vols needed Texas A&M, Auburn, and Florida to all lose. They all lost.
All that needed to happen was for Alabama to beat Florida in the SEC Championship game next week, which we all know will happen, and for the Vols to beat Derek Mason and Vanderbilt.
But in the final tease of the year, the Vols lost to the team in Nashville.
Every time they got their hopes up this year, they would be crushed in the end. It was a painful ending to a brutal season.
And despite another 8-4 year, it simply retold the story of the teases that have faced Vols fans for the past decade.
National championship crushed? At least you’ve got the SEC. SEC championship out of the picture? Well, a solid bowl game is still in play. Solid bowl game hopes crushed?
At least you can go to a bowl and finish in the Top 25.
Hey, that last part is actually possible. And it’s the one area where the Vols have improved over the past decade because that wasn’t a given just two years ago.
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