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BECOMING THE HUNTED: Tennessee assumes top spot in college football for first time since 1998

By: John Dunn

Founder, Managing Editor, Host

The All Vol Call in Show

20221101



Photo | UT Athletics


If you were to go back in time to Jeremy Pruitt's final days at the University of Tennessee and tell the Tennessee fan base that in just two short years, former Oklahoma Sooners' quarterback Josh Heupel would lead the Vols to wins over a ranked Pittsburgh on the road, ranked Florida at home, a ranked LSU on the road, a ranked Alabama at home, and a ranked Kentucky at home, people would have called you crazy.


Tennessee is the only team in college football with such a resume. The only other team in the country that has any resemblance of the success that the Vols have had are the TCU Horned Frogs, who bolster four ranked wins on the season.


With impressive wins over ranked teams, including last week's decimation of the Kentucky Wildcats, the Tennessee Volunteers have assumed the top spot in college football for the first time since December of 1998 when the final rankings were posted following the Vols' last national championship.


Just like 1998, Tennessee has taken care of business against ranked opposition. The Vols handled (17)Syracuse, (2)Florida, (7)Georgia, (10)Arkansas, and (23)Mississippi State in the regular season en route to defeating (2)Florida State in the national championship game. In 2022, Tennessee has defeated (17)Pittsburgh, (20)Florida, (25)LSU, (3)Alabama, and (19)Kentucky, ahead of a gargantuan matchup with (3)Georgia in Athens Saturday.


While many similarities have been drawn between the 1998 season and the 2022 season, this year may actually go down as the greatest season in Tennessee football history if the Vols win out. In 1998, Tennessee finished the season 13-0, with six ranked wins, including the national championship game. With the current format of the College Football Playoff, teams now play 15 games a season. If trends continue, Tennessee will finish the regular season with six ranked wins, and still have to win three games against ranked opponents to finish the season 15-0, which would leave the Vols with nine ranked wins of their 15.


Just five years after the worst season in Tennessee history, the Vols have reassumed their rightful place at the top of college football. Tennessee has gone from hunters to hunted in just two short years under Josh Heupel. There's no question that the Vols have the right man for the job.


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