John Adams: Improving Vols have another streak in their sights

John Adams
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones motions for a time out during the first half of their game against South Carolina Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Neyland Stadium.  (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones motions for a time out during the first half of their game against South Carolina Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Neyland Stadium. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee ended one streak Saturday. It can end another one a week later.

The Vols had lost 19 consecutive games against nationally ranked teams before upsetting South Carolina 23-21 at Neyland Stadium.

Now, they have a chance to end the Alabama streak.

That’s not a reference to Alabama’s six-game winning streak in the series — just the last three seasons.

In each of those seasons, Alabama beat the Vols by 31 points.

The Tennessee-Alabama series has been marked by streaks. But the once great rivalry, which will be renewed Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., has never had a streak like this one.

Let’s put it in historical context.

When UT won six consecutive games in the series (1995 through 2001), it never won by more than 27 points.

From 1971 through 1981, Alabama beat the Vols 11 consecutive times. Its biggest margin of victory: 27 points.

From 1986 through 1994, Alabama went 8-0-1 against UT. It biggest margin of victory: 26 points.

Alabama vs. Tennessee has never been such a mismatch, whether you’re judging by the scoreboard or the final records.

Alabama is 35-5 the past three seasons. UT is 16-21.

The Tide has two more national championships than Tennessee has bowl victories in that span.

In fact, if you take just the past three seasons, UT qualifies as the easiest opponent on Alabama’s SEC schedule.

The Tide might have rung up 52 points on Arkansas or Ole Miss. But other than Tennessee, it hasn’t beaten any of its annual opponents by at least 31 points in three consecutive seasons.

However, the streak is obviously in jeopardy. Just when you thought it was time for Alabama to start scheduling UT for homecoming, the Vols have become a respectable opponent.

First, the Vols took sixth-ranked Georgia into overtime before losing by three points. Two weeks later, they registered their most impressive victory in four years by knocking off 11th-ranked South Carolina.

They have played so well the past two games, their more courageous fans probably aren’t terrified of the trip to Tuscaloosa, which can be a grind even when Tennessee wins.

You can lose a filling on the jarring drive down I-59. And the post-game drive back to Birmingham is even worse. If you know a shortcut, you might make it in three hours.

And for what? To see the Vols lose by 31 points?

All the Vols have accomplished the past three seasons against Alabama is make coach Nick Saban feel uncomfortable.

He makes an effort each week to extol the virtues of an upcoming opponent. But what was he going to say about the Vols in past seasons?

Maybe something like: “Our second-team offense was hard-pressed to score that final touchdown last year.”

Or: “When I watch them on video, I just don’t see how we can beat them by more than 30 points.”

This week will be different. The Vols have given him something to work with.

He can cast them as a slow-starting team that has become top-25 caliber. He also can remind them that in a national championship race with so many candidates still unbeaten, the Tide can’t afford a single slipup.

UT also has plenty of incentive, though. This team could be remembered as the one that ended the streak against Alabama.

And all it has to do is come within 30 points.

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Comments » 6

TNlogfire writes:

Hey, adams....go ahead and pick us to win against bammer...we expect it..and, as a bonus, you could be elected to another picks panel, whatever that is....as long as it's important to you...

atnvol#283282 writes:

Adams says, "When UT won six consecutive games in the series (1995 through 2001), it never won by more than 27 points."

Actually John Adams that is a 7 game streak....that was the first time anyone had beaten the bubbas seven straight times. No wonder you got a demotion with the News-Sentinel...

OrangePride writes:

Gee John......aren't you just the picture of rainbows and sunshine in this article. Ya think maybe it has escaped everyone's notice here in Knoxville that the Alabama game was not even one time close to competitive under Dooley?! We now need to have it highlighted, underscored, and gift wrapped for the weekend? Here is my response. Butch Jones is NOT Derek Dooley. This team is NOT anything like what we put on the field these last 3 years. YOU...gave us NO SHOT at being on the field with Georgia. What happened? YOU gave us NO SHOT to be on the same field with your good buddy Spurrier and the fearsome Gamecocks. What happened?? NOW...YOU give us basic instruction to try and not get beat by 31 points. What a high standard to set!! What a challenge. None of us know what will be the outcome, but here is what WE know that by now YOU SHOULD KNOW!! This coaching staff will have a first rate game plan. These players will go in there ready to play and thinking WIN (not just keep the margin under 31). And this team WILL NOT disappoint. As Lee Corso often says........."Closer than the experts predict!" (Apparently that "expert" part includes you, John.) GO VOLS!!

DroopyDrawers writes:

John Adams can't pick his nose, much less football games.

bUTch__please writes:

in response to OrangePride:

Gee John......aren't you just the picture of rainbows and sunshine in this article. Ya think maybe it has escaped everyone's notice here in Knoxville that the Alabama game was not even one time close to competitive under Dooley?! We now need to have it highlighted, underscored, and gift wrapped for the weekend? Here is my response. Butch Jones is NOT Derek Dooley. This team is NOT anything like what we put on the field these last 3 years. YOU...gave us NO SHOT at being on the field with Georgia. What happened? YOU gave us NO SHOT to be on the same field with your good buddy Spurrier and the fearsome Gamecocks. What happened?? NOW...YOU give us basic instruction to try and not get beat by 31 points. What a high standard to set!! What a challenge. None of us know what will be the outcome, but here is what WE know that by now YOU SHOULD KNOW!! This coaching staff will have a first rate game plan. These players will go in there ready to play and thinking WIN (not just keep the margin under 31). And this team WILL NOT disappoint. As Lee Corso often says........."Closer than the experts predict!" (Apparently that "expert" part includes you, John.) GO VOLS!!

+1.

Beat Bama.

johnlg00 writes:

Well, of course Adams had to couch his point in terms seemingly calculated to enrage his many detractors, but really, at least getting the margin down below a couple dozen points would be a sign of progress for the Vols. I fully expect that to happen. The fact is, IMHO, that a respectable showing would be almost as good as an outright win in keeping the belief alive in the team as well as the fans that a measure of REAL success is still possible for this team. I also hope CBJ, the staff, and the players go into the game with the expectation of winning. I would be thrilled if they pulled it off, but I'm not holding my breath.

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