Prior to Saturday, the last Alabama head coach to lose to Tennessee was Mike Shula. That title now belongs to current head coach Nick Saban.
In a top-10 showdown in Knoxville, the Volunteers picked up their biggest win in more than a decade. A field goal on the game’s final snap lifted sixth-ranked Tennessee to a 52-49 victory over No. 3 Alabama.
The win at Neyland Stadium snapped a 15-game losing streak to Alabama. With the monumental win, the Volunteers have earned the title of Fifth Quarter/CFBHome Team of the Week.
Last Man Standing
For the early parts of the contest, Tennessee dominated. The Volunteers raced to a 28-10 lead, but that deficit was cut to eight by halftime.
In the third quarter, Alabama took its first lead on Jahmyr Gibbs’ third touchdown run of the day. The Crimson Tide’s biggest lead came midway through the fourth after Dallas Turner returned a Tennessee fumble for Alabama’s second touchdown in 49 seconds.
What was once an 18-point lead had become a 49-42 deficit, but Tennessee did not back down. Hendon Hooker’s fifth touchdown pass of the day to Jalin Hyatt capped a 75-yard drive and drew the Volunteers even. With less than a minute to play, however, Will Reichard’s 50-yard field goal attempt was set to give Alabama the lead.
Reichard’s kick stayed right with 15 seconds remaining. That turned out to be too much time for Hooker and the Tennessee offense.
Consecutive completions to Ramel Keyton and Bru McCoy put Tennessee inside the Alabama 25-yard-line. The game’s final snap was a 40-yard field goal attempt by Tennessee kicker Chase McGrath.
The kick was hardly a thing of beauty, but for those in Knoxville, it was a sight for sore eyes. The knuckling kick just sailed above the upright as time expired to give the Volunteers the thrilling victory.
Saturday’s contest in Knoxville featured more than 1,100 yards of offense and 61 first downs. Hooker passed for 385 yards and the five touchdowns to Hyatt. Hyatt finished with 207 yards receiving on just six catches.
Alabama quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young finished with 455 yards passing. Gibbs rushed for a game-high 103 yards.
Defense was rare on Saturday, but Trevon Flowers led the Volunteers with a game-high 11 tackles. Omari Thomas had the team’s only sack.
A Long Time Coming
For Tennessee, the victory served as its first over Alabama since 2006. For perspective’s sake, Urban Meyer won his first national championship that season while Saban was the head coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
The 15-game winning streak for Alabama was the longest in the history of the rivalry played on the “Third Saturday in October”. Tennessee had been 0-39 against top-10 teams since 2007.
The Volunteers are also 6-0 for the first time since 1998. This season marks the first time that Tennessee has defeated Florida and Alabama in the same season since 2004.
Following the contest on Saturday, the teams have now switched spots in the AP Poll. Tennessee has risen to No. 3 while Alabama has fallen to No. 6.
Head coach Josh Heupel and the Volunteers will remain home this week to take on Tennessee-Martin. Saturday’s contest begins at 12 p.m. ET and airs on SEC Network.
Alabama will return home to prepare for another top-25 matchup against No. 22 Mississippi State. The contest is slated for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee athletics