Crazy College Football Stats — Part II: Tennessee’s Decline Based on Record vs. Rivals

Photo credit: Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee athletics

Tennessee football fans have a different kind of hope for the 2022 season — something that hasn’t been genuinely felt in Knoxville in a long time.

While Twitter users are using the term “1998” as a derogatory insult, one can still note that Tennessee has the second most SEC championships all-time. While things have been downhill this millennium for Volunteer fans, maybe second-year head coach Josh Heupel can get it turned around.

In today’s feature of crazy college football stats, we are going to show you how good Tennessee used to have it. One can argue Tennessee faces five consistent rivals yearly. Let’s take a look on how Tennessee was doing against these programs entering 2000 and how it now fares historically:

Tennessee vs. annual rivals

Record from 1999 and before

  • vs. Florida: 16-13
  • vs. Georgia: 17-10-2
  • vs. Kentucky: 63-23-1
  • vs. Alabama: 33-41-7
  • vs. Vanderbilt: 62-27-5

Current all-time records vs. annual rivals

  • vs. Florida: 20-31
  • vs. Georgia: 23-26-2
  • vs. Kentucky: 82-26-9
  • vs. Alabama: 38-58-7
  • vs. Vanderbilt: 78-33-5

Perhaps the craziest record on this list is the series against Georgia. Right now, Georgia is the reigning national champion. Even with the strides Tennessee is taking with Heupel, it might take a while before the Volunteers can consistently match what Georgia has built.

In the 1990’s, Tennessee never lost to Georgia. After the 1998 national championship season until now, the series against Georgia and Florida have totally flipped. Since 2010, Tennessee only has three wins combined against the two.

Even worse is the Alabama situation. Since Nick Saban took the Alabama job in 2007, Tennessee has not scored a victory against the Crimson Tide.

The ultimate question is whether Tennessee can change the narrative against these rivals.