Tennessee football concluded its best season in 21 years by waxing No. 7 Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl. In Josh Heupel’s second season, the Vols went 11-2 (6-2 SEC) and tied for the second best record of any SEC team.
The Vols beat strong ACC programs, rivals they’ve struggled with in recent years and other top SEC programs.
Ranking the biggest wins of Tennessee’s resurgent 2022 season.
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These first three will be anti climatical as the Vols took care of their easy non conference games. Tennessee jumped on Akron early and didn’t let up after an early dirty hit led to the injury that plagued Cedric Tillman all season.
The Vols rolled the Zips, 63-6, in the game between massive matchups with Pitt and Florida.
10. UT Martin
The win over the instate FCS school would usually come in as the least impressive win. But considering the game came the week after the monumental victory over Alabama and Tennessee played so well from the game’s start — first half was the highest scoring half in program history — I’m giving this the nod over Akron.
The Vols threw a double pass for a touchdown, played Joe Milton III the whole second half and defeated UT Martin, 65-24.
9. Ball State
Tomarrion McDonald intercepted a Ball State pass on the first play of the season. Hendon Hooker fired a touchdown to Jalin Hyatt on the second play of the season.
It was all Vols in the opener as Tennessee dominated Ball State, 59-10, at Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee bounced back from its first loss of the season at Georgia by routing Missouri at Neyland Stadium. The Tigers pulled within four points early in the second half and seemed poised to make it a four quarter game,
The Vols proceeded to score the game’s final 38 points on the way to a 66-24 victory on Senior Day. Hendon Hooker led the band in his last home game after totaling 405 yards and four touchdowns.
Tennessee had little to play for after South Carolina ended its playoff dreams the second to last week of the regular season. Vanderbilt had won two straight SEC games and was playing as well as it had in years.
With Joe Milton III starting for an injured Hooker, the instate rivalry had the makings of a competitive game. Instead, Tennessee ran all over the Commodores and its defense thrived in a 56-0 blowout win to cap off the regular season.
Debuting its new “dark mode” helmets in primetime. Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit on the call. It was a big time college football atmosphere when No. 22 Kentucky came to Knoxville.
The Wildcats spent all offseason talking about how they were going to challenge Georgia in the SEC east. Tennessee humbled them, intercepting star quarterback Will Levis three times in a dominant, 44-6, win. If Kentucky hadn’t fallen apart after this game, it might be higher on the list.
Tennessee didn’t play its best at Pittsburgh as the Panthers slowed down the Vols’ high powered offense. The Vols’ defense knocked Pitt quarterback Kedon Slovis out of the game in the first half and stifled Pitt’s offense afterwards.
The Vols led for the majority of the second half before Pitt tied the game late to force overtime. Cedric Tillman hauled in a big touchdown and Trevon Flowers sacked Nick Patti into fourth-and-forever as the Vols escaped with a win. The week two victory set the stage for Tennessee’s breakout season.
Tennessee was nearly touchdown underdogs in Miami against the ACC Champions. Tigers’ freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik appeared poised for a breakout performance. The Vols’ defense had other ideas.
Tennessee intercepted Klubnik twice and took bend-not-break to a whole new level holding the Tigers to three points on eight first half trips into UT territory. On the other side, Milton turned in his best performance in his Tennessee career, firing three touchdowns in an impressive win.
Tennessee went to Baton Rouge for the first time since 2010, recovered a fumble on the opening play of the game and began a rout of Brian Kelly’s Tigers.
The Vols turned LSU over on downs three times in the first half and Hendon Hooker shined while Vol nation took over Tiger Stadium. Tennessee improved to 5-0 and became a national story with the impressive showing
Hendon Hooker was flawless as Tennessee double dipped around halftime and took control of the game in the third quarter. The Vols pulled ahead by 17 in the fourth quarter before holding on for dear life after Florida scored two touchdowns, recovered an onside kick and had a throw at the end zone to win.
It’s weird for a win over a 6-7 team to be ranked so high but Florida was 3-1 on Sept. 24 and Tennessee had beaten them just once in the previous 17 years. The Vols got over the hump on an electric afternoon at Neyland Stadium.
What is there to say that hasn’t been about this game? The picture at the top says it all. Tennessee won the game of the college football season as the Vols drove the ball 42 yards in two plays and Chase McGrath drilled a 41-yard field goal to win.
Tennessee earned its first win over Alabama since 2006 and the Neyland Stadium fans poured onto Shield-Watkins Field for the first time since 1998 on a magical night in Knoxville.