Tennessee came out and looked more fired up for this game than they had in weeks. And it showed, as the Vols were holding their own against the No. 20 LSU Tigers for a large part of the game.
But as time went on, the gap widened. And eventually the Vols were handed their seventh loss of the season, eliminating their chances to make a bowl game.
The Vols’ defense was suffocating LSU’s offense to start, but Tennessee’s special teams didn’t help them out. Tennessee fumbled two punts that set up LSU inside the red zone, and the Tigers connected on a field goal and scored a touchdown on those two possessions.
From there, the Vols were able to almost keep pace. The score got to 17-3 LSU before the Vols put together an impressive drive that was capped off by a 46-yard touchdown grab by Marquez Callaway. The score at halftime was 17-10.
But from there, it was all LSU.
The weather to start the second half was so bad that some of the lights in Neyland Stadium went out, and the rain was coming down in sheets. But there was no delay, and the Vols took over at their own 3 after they lost the ball in the dim lighting and pouring rain.
LSU would consistently win the field position battle in the second half just like they did in the first half, and they were able to run away with a victory.
Tennessee had some fight in them for a good part of the game, but injuries and poor conditions caught up with them. The Vols had to play walk-on Joe Keeler on the offensive line after Jashon Robertson left, and walk-on running back Malik Elion caught a pass in the first half as well.
The Vols made some big plays in the passing game. Callaway made two big catches and Jeff George hauled in a 60-yard pass. But those plays were few and far between for the Vols, and their run game got nothing going behind the makeshift offensive line. Tennessee totaled just 38 rushing yards on 34 attempts.
LSU’s win over the Vols was their fifth straight over Tennessee. The Vols haven’t beaten the Tigers since their comeback on the road in 2005.
The loss also means the Vols will miss a bowl game for the first time since 2013. Tennessee will try to avoid the program’s first eight loss season and first winless SEC season next week when they take on Vanderbilt.