After heartbreaking losses to Oklahoma, Florida, and a near miss against Arkansas, Tennessee stood at 2-3 when it welcomed 19th-ranked Georgia to Neyland Stadium on October 10th. Another sad day at Neyland seemed likely when Georgia jumped out to a 24-3 lead late in the first half.
But arguably the biggest play of the Butch Jones era happened on 4th-and-9 at the Georgia 39-yard-line with 1:13 to go before intermission. Dobbs connected with Josh Smith for a spectacular catch and run for a touchdown.
A Georgia fumble on the ensuing kickoff led to another quick score.
The Vols took that momentum into the second half and led 38-31 in the final minutes.
Georgia’s Greyson Lambert threw a perfect deep ball that seemed destined to tie the game, but Reggie Davis dropped it with just under four minutes to go. Another Lambert pass was knocked away at the goal-line in the final seconds and Tennessee finally had something to truly celebrate.
The Vols would lose yet another close game at Alabama two weeks later, but finished the season at 9-4. It was their first campaign with at least that many wins since 2007.
Honorable mention: A 45-6 trouncing of 12th ranked Northwestern at the Outback Bowl in Tampa.
Tennessee stood at 4-0 when it traveled to Athens to face 25th ranked Georgia. The Vols took the lead with just under three minutes to go when Derek Barnett blasted Bulldogs’ quarterback Jacob Eason in the end zone, forcing a fumble. Corey Vereen fell on the football and Tennessee led 28-24.
But somehow, Eason found Riley Ridley open for a 47-yard touchdown, giving UGA the lead with only 10 seconds to go.
An excessive celebration flag on Georgia, a solid kickoff return by Evan Berry, and a five yard offside penalty on the Dawgs gave Tennessee the ball at the Georgia 43 with four seconds left.
Georgia only rushed three men, giving Josh Dobbs plenty of time in the pocket. His pass went into the end zone scrum. Jauan Jennings outleaped the Bulldogs defenders for the game winning score as time expired.
Tennessee improved to 5-0 with wins over their two biggest rivals. Surely a division title and a trip to Atlanta were finally in the cards.
Honorable mention: Tennessee ending an 11-game losing streak to Florida the previous week, rallying in the second half for a 38-28 victory in front of a raucous crowd at Neyland Stadium.
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