What happened and what mattered in the Tennessee 30-24 win over Auburn?
Tennessee 30, Auburn 24
Crank up the Gus Malzahn On The Hot Seat talk to a whole other level. It’s one thing to lose a Mississippi State. It’s one thing to lose to a strong LSU team in the final seconds. It’s a whole other level of issues when the offense still can’t get going like it’s supposed to and there’s a loss to Tennessee.
With at Ole Miss, Texas A&M, at Georgia and at Alabama to go, the Tigers had better beat the Rebels and/or Aggies next, or else – putting the Liberty game in the win column – it’ll now be a battle just to go bowling, much less do anything interesting.
The Tiger offense has been an inconsistent issue all season long, but Jarrett Stidham turned it loose with 322 yards and two scores, But he also threw two picks. The ground game still isn’t there with just 126 yards and a touchdown.
But enough about Auburn. Tennessee won a real, live, SEC game, breaking an 11-game conference losing steak … and it was on the road. This wasn’t like beating Vanderbilt or Missouri. This was Auburn, and the Vols lined up and rocked with a great day from Jarrett Guarantano, completing 21-of-32 passes for 328 yards and two scores.
There wasn’t enough of a running game, and the line was still a big problem – it couldn’t keep the Tigers out of the backfield – but the O did a nice job of keeping things moving, held the ball for over 34 minutes, and didn’t turn the ball over. Being a +3 in turnover margin was a big deal.
And now, can the Vols go bowling? They have to win three of their final six games, and it’s not crazy with Charlotte, Kentucky, Missouri, and at Vanderbilt in November. No matter what, this was the win the Jeremy Pruitt era had to have. Now the team knows it can play with the decent teams, and even come up with a win.