Sept. 16, 2013
By Brian Rice
Each week, UTSports.com takes a look at the numbers from the weekend past and the weekend ahead in Four Downs. This week, a big margin doesn't spell doom, streaks snapped and a chance to join select company for Butch Jones.
First Down: 45 - Margin of Victory for Oregon
The 45-point margin was the largest since 1910, certainly not a positive stat for Tennessee. But since that 48-0 loss to Mississippi A&M in 1910, UT has only lost by 38 points or more on five occasions. In three of those games, UT followed up the next week with a win, once with a tie. In all but one of those seasons, the Volunteers have finished with a winning record.
In 1923, Army shut out Tennessee in the season opener, 41-0. A week later, UT tied Maryville, 14-14, but finished the season with a winning record at 5-4-1.
It was 1969 before UT would experience another loss that large. In fact, UT only surrendered 40+ points once during the stretch, 43 to Ole Miss in 1947. In 1969, Ole Miss defeated Tennessee 38-0, representing the Volunteers' only loss of the 1969 regular season. UT rebounded a week later with a 31-26 win over Kentucky in Lexington. Tennessee finished 9-2 after a Gator Bowl loss to Florida and claimed its second SEC Championship in three seasons.
In 1981, Tennessee opener with a 44-0 loss to Georgia, and lost a week later at Southern Cal, 43-7, the two largest losses in the tenure of Johnny Majors. But, again, UT rebounded to finish 8-4 and earn a berth in the Garden State Bowl, where the Vols would defeat Wisconsin.
UT opened SEC play in 2007 with a 39-point loss at Florida, 59-20. The Vols came back a week later to thrash Arkansas State, 48-27. Tennessee would overcome the loss in Gainesville to win the SEC East and finish the year with a 10-4 record and a win over Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.
The 2011 Volunteers dropped a 42-point decision at Arkansas, but defeated Vanderbilt at home a week later, 27-21. That team was the only one since 1910 to lose a game by 38 points or more to not finish with a winning record, finishing the year at 5-7.
So, despite the disappointing end in Eugene, history points to a winning season, a strong rebound next week and maybe even a bowl win over Wisconsin.
Second Down: 137:35 - Time Between TD Passes Vs. Oregon
As the Vols jumped out to a 7-0 lead in Eugene, they ended a great defensive run by Oregon. Justin Worley's 4-yard TD strike to Jason Croom was the first touchdown pass vs. the Ducks all season. Worley became the first quarterback to throw a TD against the Ducks since Collin Klein of Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3, a span of 137:35 of game time.
The TD was the first score for Croom and first catch in his career.
Third Down: Quick Hits
3 - Games this season, out of three that Tennessee has scored the game's initial touchdown. When Worley hit Croom for the first TD of his career on his first catch as a Vol, he extended the streak to start the season. Western Kentucky notched a field goal on its opening possession a week ago, the only time this season UT has failed to score first.
8 - Yards covered by Alden Hill on a 4th quarter TD run, the first score of his UT career.
12 - Streak of consecutive regular season non-conference wins broken with the loss to Oregon Saturday. Prior to Saturday, UT's last non-conference loss in the regular season was to ... Oregon, in 2010. Tennessee's home non-conference win streak stands at 10, dating back to that Oregon game in 2010 and will be put on the line in two weeks against South Alabama.
51 - Yards on Josh Smith's catch in the first quarter, a career-long in his first start. The pass also marked the longest of Worley's career.
456 - Passing yards for Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the most by an opposing quarterback since since Andre' Woodson of Kentucky had 430 in a 4 OT game on Nov. 24, 2007. The total was the third most all-time against the Vols behind Tim Couch's 476 for Kentucky in 1997 and Whit Taylor, who threw for 464 for Vanderbilt in 1981.
Fourth Down: A Look Ahead
3 - Tennessee coaches to win their SEC debuts. Robert Neyland, not yet a General, won UT's first SEC game, 20-0 over Mississippi State in 1933. W.H. Britton won his SEC debut against Auburn, 13-6, in his only season at UT, filling in for Neyland in 1935. From there, no Vol coach would win his SEC debut until Phillip Fulmer, who actually did it twice, both times over Georgia. Fulmer beat the Bulldogs in Athens, 34-31, as the interim coach in 1992, and in Knoxville, 38-6, a year later. Butch Jones will have the opportunity to join this elite club when the Volunteers head to Gainesville on Saturday and it is once again Football Time in Tennessee!
8 - Consecutive wins for Florida over Tennessee, the second-longest streak in the series between the two teams. The longest? Tennessee won the first 10 meetings between 1916-1953.
21 - Meetings between UT and UF before the SEC expanded and the teams became yearly divisional rivals in 1992. The teams have played every year since 1990, when Florida rotated onto the old SEC schedule two years prior to the realignment into divisions.