The Vols knocked off Auburn for the first time since 1999, taking advantage of Tigers mistakes to snap an 11-game SEC losing streak.

By Laken Litman
October 13, 2018

Rocky Top blared through Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday afternoon when Tennessee earned its biggest win in a while, shocking No. 21 Auburn 30–24. The Vols broke an 11-game SEC losing streak dating back to 2016.

This was a signature win for the Volunteers, beating their first top-25 team in the Jeremy Pruitt era. The last time the Vols beat a conference foe was at home against Missouri on Nov. 19, 2016; the last time they got a league win on the road was against Georgia on Oct. 1, 2016. The last time they beat Auburn? 1999.

Tennessee’s win was a matter of taking advantage of Auburn’s costly mistakes and not making any of its own. Tigers quarterback Jarrett Stidham went 28 of 45 for 322 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, both of which the Vols turned into their own touchdowns on the ensuing possession.

But it was Stidham’s third turnover of the game that was the most damaging. With 2:34 remaining in the third quarter, Stidham fumbled when he was sacked for a loss of 15 yards. Freshman defensive back Alontae Taylor scooped up the ball and scored to bump Tennessee’s then-narrow lead to a more comfortable 27–17. Auburn struggled to get anything going in response. It tried a field goal to cap an 11-play, 42-yard drive, but Anders Carlson missed the 54-yard attempt.

In the third quarter alone, the Tigers' possessions looked like this: punt, fumble, missed field goal. They also had minus-3 rushing yards.

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Meanwhile, Tennessee’s energy was revving. The Vols struck again in the fourth quarter (after an Auburn punt) with a 20-yard field goal to widen their lead.

Auburn’s best chance at getting back in this game came with 8:38 remaining, when Stidham took a shot downfield that receiver Darius Slayton should have caught for a touchdown. Instead, the pass slipped out of his hands and the Tigers ended up turning the ball over on downs when Stidham was sacked on fourth-and-4 just outside the red zone.

Stidham ended up leading a touchdown drive in the final minute, but it was too late by then.

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano had a career day, going 21 of 32 for 328 yards and two touchdowns. He’d been averaging 160.2 yards passing per game this season heading into Week 7.

Auburn now has three losses this season, including two in the past two weeks. The Tigers beat No. 7 Washington in Week 1 though, so what does their record mean for the Huskies’ College Football Playoff résumé? It will likely be something the selection committee discusses, should Washington win the Pac-12.

As for Tennessee, the Vols have momentum with No. 1 Alabama—and Pruitt’s former team—coming to Knoxville next week.

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