Tennessee’s 11-game losing streak to Florida might be the most notorious current run of futility in the SEC, depending on which side of the Georgia border your allegiances lay, that is.
But where does the losing streak stand in Volunteer lore? Which conference teams have owned Tennessee over certain periods of time since the program’s inception in 1891?
We broke down the longest losing streaks in Tennessee history against each current SEC team and how those steaks, mercifully, finally ended.
Streak: 11 games
Time frame: 1971-1981
When it ended: Oct. 16, 1982 at Tennessee
How it ended: If Tennessee loses in Week 4 to Florida, it’ll set the Volunteer record for the longest losing streak to any team. The Gators currently share that distinction with Alabama, who also defeated the boys from Rocky Top 11-consecutive times. The Crimson Tide did so over the course of a decade-plus, before the Vols put a kibosh to all the losing. The 35-28 win upset the No. 2 Tide, who were an unblemished 5-0 at the time during Bear Bryant’s final season in Tuscaloosa. The loss derailed Alabama (8-4, 3-3 SEC), who limped into the Liberty Bowl against Illinois after losing their final three games of the regular season to LSU, Southern Mississippi and Auburn.
Streak: 9 (winless)
Time frame: 1986-1994
When it ended: Oct. 14, 1995 at Tennessee
How it ended: This is more of a winless streak than a losing streak, thanks to the teams playing to a 17-all tie in 1993. Tennessee’s 9-game winless streak to Alabama ended two years later in what is considered one of the greatest games ever played on Rocky Top — the first being the aforementioned win in 1982. Peyton Manning might not have ever beaten Florida in four tries, but the quarterback made a statement by laying a 41-14 beating on the No. 11 Crimson Tide in Week 7 of the 1995 season. Manning hit Joey Kent for an 80-yard score on the game’s first play and No. 7 Tennessee never looked into their rearview mirror.
Streak: 9 games
Time frame: 2007-2015
When it ended: We’ll let you know. The Vols and Crimson Tide will face each other in Week 6 of this year.
Before it started: The last time Tennessee beat Alabama, the No. 7 Volunteers erased a 13-6 Tide lead in the fourth quarter, completing the comeback with a 1-yard touchdown by Arian Foster with 3:28 remaining for the 16-13 win during the 2006 season.
Streak: 8 games
Time frame: 1902-1913
When it ended: Nov. 7, 1914 at Vanderbilt
How it ended: Tennessee’s first-ever win over Vanderbilt ended the Commodores’ 8-game winning streak and helped propel the Volunteers to the 1914 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship. Led by head coach Zora Clevenger, Tennessee eked out a 16-14 en route to an 8-0 record on the year, beating the likes of Alabama, Clemson and Louisville.
Streak: 8 games (winless)
Time frame: 1919-1927
When it ended: Nov. 17, 1928 at Vanderbilt
How it ended: Believe it or not, but Vanderbilt has hung two streaks of eight games on Tennessee. Granted both came prior to the World War II era. The Volunteers knocked off the Commodores in Week 8 of 1928, behind the running exploits of Gene “The Bristol Blizzard” McEver and fellow tailback Buddy Hackman. The duo would forever be linked in Knoxville history as the “Hack and Mack, the Touchdown Twins” as members of a Tennessee squad dubbed the “Flaming Sophomores.” Whatever you want to call them, the Vols closed out that year with a 9-0-1 record. Vanderbilt’s 8-year dominance over Tennessee was bookended by ties to start and end the streak in 1919 and 1927, respectively.
Streak: 8 games
Time frame: 1959-1966
When it ended: Nov. 18, 1967 in Memphis
How it ended: Tennessee lost its season-opener in 1967 under the lights of UCLA’s Memorial Coliseum, but rallied to win their next nine games. Among those wins was the team’s first victory over Ole Miss since the 1958 campaign. Led by quarterback Dewey Warren, the Volunteers downed the Rebels 20-7 in a contest held in Memphis. The two programs have met 24 times in the Birthplace of Rock ‘N Roll, but not since the 1996 season. Warren and Vols went on to lose to Oklahoma on New Year’s Day in the Orange Bowl to finish No. 2 in most major polls — except for the Litkenhous ratings, which dubbed Tennessee its champion that year.
Streak: 6 games
Time frame: 2003-2013
When it ended: Again, we’re going to have to get back to you on this one.
Before it started: Turns out, Alabama and Florida aren’t the only teams currently in the midst of their longest winning streaks over Tennessee. The Volunteers haven’t beaten the Tigers yet this century in eight attempts. The last time the Vols knocked off Auburn, Tennessee boasted the insane backfield trio of Jamal Lewis, Travis Henry and Onterrio Smith. Tennessee blanked Auburn in a Week 5 matchup during the 1999 season at Jordan-Hare Stadium by a 24-0 margin. Auburn would get the last laugh, however, going on a six-game win streak that featured two victories in 2004, including a 38-28 win in that year’s SEC Championship game.
Streak: 5 games
Time frame: 2010-2014
When it ended: Oct. 10, 2015 at Tennessee
How it ended: If there’s a group of Volunteers that could end the losing streak against Florida, it’s this year’s squad who return the majority of the same players who last year helped end the program’s recent 5-game losing skid against Georgia. How close is the Vols and Bulldogs rivalry? Of the five games that Tennessee lost to Georgia between 2010 and 2014, four of them were settled by 8 or fewer points — the last two decided by the margin of a field goal. Josh Dobbs came of age in the 2015 contest that broke the Bulldogs’ streak, as the Vols quarterback tossed for 312 yards and ran for another 118 on the ground. Oh, and running back Jalen Hurd trampled a would-be Georgia defender.
Time frame: 1909-1924
When it ended: Oct. 31, 1925 at Tennessee
How it ended: Georgia’s two 5-game win streaks over Tennessee began nearly a century apart. The two programs began their history against one another with a win, loss and tie in their first three contests before the Bulldogs rattled off a 5-game winning streak, which would be their longest over the Volunteers until the 2010 season. Georgia dominated the first 5-game win streak, winning by an average of 19.0 points per game, which was a lot of points for a team to score in the early 1900s. Tennessee broke Georgia’s win streak in 1925, the same season that an ROTC instructor and backfield coach named Gen. Robert Reese Neyland arrived on campus in Rocky Top. A year later Tennessee named him head coach and the rest is history.
Streak: 4 games
Time frame: 1952-1955 (winless)
When it ended: Nov. 25, 1961 at Kentucky
How it ended: Traditionally speaking, the Vols are the ones running up the winning streaks on the Kentucky — including a stretch of 26-consecutive over the Wildcats. But for a brief spell in the 1950s, Kentucky got the best of Tennessee, going 4-straight games without a loss. After tying at 10 apiece in 1960 to run the winless streak to 4 games, Tennessee rallied around tailback Mallon Faircloth, who led the team in rushing (475 yards), as well as passing (460 yards) that season. The Vols broke the streak in 1961 with a 26-16 win over Kentucky, but went on to lose two of the next three to the Wildcats.
Streak: 4 games
Time frame: 2006-2011
When it ended: Add another team to the list of teams actively working their longest winning streaks against Tennessee.
Before it started: It’s been 11 years since the Volunteers last beat LSU, a run of 4 games that includes the 2007 SEC championship game. Tennessee holds the all-time series record (20-9-3) over the Tigers. The even own the longest win streak between the two programs, having knocked off LSU in 13-consecutive contests between 1934 and 1972. But LSU has reversed course of late, winning the last four games and six of eight. The last time Tennessee defeated the Tigers was in Week 2 of the 2005 season in Les Miles’ SEC and Tiger Stadium debut. Erik Ainge and No. 10 Tennessee upset No. 4 LSU and JaMarcus Russell 30-27 in an emotional game that was postponed until Monday night because of Hurricane Rita.
Time frame: 1910-1920
When it ended: Nov. 5, 1921 at Memphis
How it ended: Perhaps Tennessee should play Florida in Memphis. The home of Elvis (the city, not Graceland) is not only the place where the Volunteers’ longest losing streak to Ole Miss ended, but also where their run of futility against the Rebels’ cross-state rivals Mississippi State came to a halt, as well. Tennessee doubled up the Bulldogs by a 14-7 score in the game played 400 miles away from Knoxville, despite the Vols’ brand new stadium a mile down the road from Wait Field on 15th Street. The new digs were dubbed Shields-Watkins Field. Today it’s known as Neyland Stadium.
Streak: 3 games
Time frame: 2012-2014
When it ended: Nov. 21, 2015 at Missouri
How it ended: Missouri wasn’t intimidated by its jump to the SEC. The Tigers won their first three games against Tennessee, including their Neyland Stadium debut in 2012. The Volunteers finally downed Mizzou in 2015, six weeks after Butch Jones’ squad ended its longest-ever losing streak to Georgia. Tennessee went in to Columbia and easily disposed of the Tigers by a 19-8 clip in a contest that featured 4 Aaron Medley field goals and an 8-yard Josh Dobbs rushing touchdown.
Streak: 3 games
Time frame: 2010-2012
When it ended: Oct. 19, 2013 at Tennessee
How it ended: Tennessee countered South Carolina’s 3-game winning streak over the Volunteers with a 3-game run of their own that continues into Week 8 of the 2016 season. The short skid ended in 2013 when QB Justin Worley and RB Rajion Neal were able to fend off Jadeveon Clowney and the Gamecocks 23-21 in a game that was decided by a 19-yard Michael Palardy field goal as time expired to upend No. 9 South Carolina in front of a raucous Rocky Top crowd.
Streak: 2 games
Time frame: 2011-2015
When it ended: Yep, still going.
How it started: Surprise, surprise. Another SEC West team with their longest winning streak against Tennessee actively still in progress. That is, if you consider two games in-a-row a “winning streak.” That said, the fact that it took Arkansas 108 years to finally win consecutive contests against Tennessee is impressive and a testament to the Volunteers’ dominance over the Razorbacks. The Vols have won 13 of the 18 games in their all-time series that dates back to 1907. Arkansas has the upper hand of late, claiming three of the last four meetings. Tennessee last defeated the Hogs in 2007, receiving 148 combined rushing yards from Montario Hardesty and Arian Foster to roll Darren McFadden and Arkansas.
Time frame: 1957 and 2005
How it started: Tennessee has never lost to Texas A&M. In fact, the Volunteers and Aggies have yet to square-off since the latter joined the SEC in 2012. The Volunteers downed Texas A&M 38-7 in the 2005 Cotton Bowl. Prior to that, the Vols eked out a 3-0 win over the Aggies in the 1957 Cotton Bowl.
Streak: 10 games*
Time frame: 1916-1953
When it ended: Nov. 13, 1954
How it ended: Florida’s recent 11-game winning streak could be considered payback. After all, Tennessee once hung a 10-game win streak of their own on the Gators. In fact, the Volunteers won the first 10 games between the two programs, beginning with a 1916 game held in Tampa, Fla. The Gators finally took a bite out of Tennessee in 1954. The loss for the Vols was part of a 4-game slide to close out a 4-6 (1-5 SEC) season. At the end of the year, athletic director Robert Neyland fired his successor in head coach Harvey Robinson after two years, claiming the decision was “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” according to the Tennessee Volmanac.