There are programs who are having rebuilding years, and programs who are looking to get back on track. And there is Tennessee, a program that managed to find an even tougher way to lose a game a week after suffering one of the worst losses in program history. Tennessee’s defense was solid all game long, but one crucial mistake against BYU allowed the Cougars to send the game to overtime, and BYU was the team celebrating a win in Knoxville nobody saw coming.
Although Tennessee never really had full control of BYU in Week 2, the Vols sure looked like they were going to send everyone home from Neyland Stadium with a hard-fought win. BYU had trailed for nearly the entire game after the Vols scored a touchdown on their first offensive possession. With BYU nearly incapable of getting any serious drives going, all Tennessee had to do was pick up one more stop on a 3rd-and-6 from the BYU 20-yard line with a mere 31 seconds remaining. That’s after quarterback Zach Wilson scrambled up the middle of the field and allowed 25 seconds to come off the clock. But for the first time all night, Tennessee made a fatal mistake in coverage and allowed a streaking Micah Simon to run down the field for a 64-yard gain on a pass from Wilson.
The long pass silenced the Tennessee fans and led toa game-tying field goal for the visiting Cougars that just barely snuck through the goalposts.
Having tied the game, BYU carried the momentum into overtime. After the teams exchanged touchdowns in the firts overtime, Tennessee was held to a field goal to start the second overtime. Three plays later, BYU powered their way across the goal line for the win.
So how close was Tennessee to a win? ESPN’s win probability tracker had the Vols with a 99.6% chance of winning before the long pass play by the Cougars in the final minute. From there, it was all BYU. That is quite a turn of events in win probability in just 31 seconds of play.
Tennessee had a 99.6% chance of winning with 31 seconds left in the game. Pruitt has similar odds of losing his job. pic.twitter.com/Iuj1HMn71D
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 8, 2019
Where does Tennessee go from here? It can’t possibly get worse, right? The Vols should have a good win probability (for whatever that is worth now) next week against Chattanooga, but the Vols then get into SEC play. Already sitting at a lowly 0-2, Tennessee still has games to play this season against No. 11 Florida, No. 3 Georgia, and No. 2 Alabama. And with 10 games still to play, Tennessee is going to have to find a way to scratch together six wins to avoid missing the bowl season in back-to-back-back years for the first time since, well, 2011-2013.
WAIT! FACT CHECK!
Super Mario Bros. 2 was released in North America on Oct. 9, 1988. So, officially, the last time Tennessee started a season 0-2 there was only ONE Super Mario Bros. game on the NES. pic.twitter.com/YJLQwZUFnD
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) September 8, 2019
This is the first time Tennessee has started a season 0-2 since 1988, and the first time the Vols opened a season with back-to-back losses on their home field since 1980. Times are tough on Rocky Top.