An alternate history, via Paul Myerberg’s Tennessee preview:
Tennessee was a few first downs, a third-down conversion, a fourth-down stop, a two-point conversion and an errant pass away from reaching bowl eligibility last fall, the program’s third year under ex-coach Derek Dooley. These missteps – a few of many on the year – all came in the second half against Missouri, a game the Volunteers gave away on the second Saturday of November.
Let’s say UT wins that game, doing one or two of the above to move to 5-5 with two games to play. Perhaps the Vols still lose to Vanderbilt; the Vols still beat Kentucky to reach six wins. Now, let’s say UT wins its bowl game to finish with seven victories. Let’s say the university sees enough progression to give Dooley another year – and that’s a stretch, but stick with me.
Meet the one loss that might have changed the entire future of Tennessee football: Missouri 51, Tennessee 48.
Damn it, Tigers! Your first year in and that’s your legacy? Barbara’s never gonna forgive you.
By the way, this line from Myerberg is Envy and Jealousy-worthy: “Vanderbilt texted with friends as it toyed with the Vols in a 41-18 win.”