Over the last decade, the Tennessee Volunteers have piled up an embarrassing amount of losing streaks. Whether it's against specific teams, divisions, or ranked teams, the Vols have gone long periods of time without success on many fronts. But when a team has four consecutive seven-loss seasons, that's to be expected. But now that the Vols appear to finally have the talent to compete with all the teams on their schedule, they may finally have a legitimate shot at ending some of these losing streaks.
Here are the most notable losing streaks the Vols can end this season. A more in-depth analysis of each streak will follow.
- winless vs. Florida since 2004
- winless vs. Alabama since 2006
- winless vs. Georgia since 2009
- winless against SEC West teams since 2010
- winless vs. Missouri all-time
- 9-straight losses to ranked teams
- winless on road in SEC vs teams other than UK, USC, and Vandy since 2007
Let's start with the most pressing one, the 10-game losing streak to Florida. This streak is the one the Vols have a shot to end the quickest, and if they are able to beat the Gators on Saturday, they will actually knock out two of these streaks. Not only would Tennessee end it's decade-long drought to the Gators, but they would also earn their first road victory over an SEC team other than Kentucky, South Carolina, or Vanderbilt since 2007 when the Vols defeated Mississippi State on the road. Beating Florida would end two of Tennessee's longest losing streaks, and a loss would merely continue the downward spiral.
The second-longest streak the Vols have racked up doesn't get nearly as much attention as the Florida one for whatever reason. The Vols have lost to Alabama for 8 straight seasons, and almost none of the losses have been even remotely competitive. The average score of the last 8 contests between the Crimson Tide and the Vols is 35.4 to 11.9 in favor of Alabama. The Vols have scored 10 points or less in 5 of the 8 contests and have given up at least 40 points in 4 of the match-ups. Last season's 34-20 loss was the closest the game has been since the infamous 12-10 loss in 2009 that saw several blocked Tennessee field goals. Tennessee isn't likely to end this streak this year, but it's still on the table and has a chance of becoming the Vols' longest active losing streak if all goes well in The Swamp this weekend.
Next up is Tennessee's other major rival, the Georgia Bulldogs. A loss this season would not only make it 6 years since the Vols beat the Bulldogs, but it would give Georgia the overall edge in a series that is currently tied at 21 wins apiece. Georgia hasn't held the advantage in the series since 1989, but they are dangerously close to regaining the lead in this rivalry. This series, however, has been close despite the constant losing on Tennessee's behalf. The average margin of victory over the last 4 contests has been a mere 5.3 points, and none of those games have been decided by more than a single score. This year's game is shaping up to be just as close, and the Vols should have their best chance at snagging a win against the Bulldogs in over half a decade.
Then there's Tennessee's ineptitude against SEC West opponents. The Vols haven't beaten a single SEC West team since they defeated Ole Miss 52-14 in 2010. The Vols have, of course, lost to Alabama every season in that span, but losses to Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss have continued the losing streak as well. Tennessee had the back luck of drawing whichever West team was the hottest of that particular season, and it looked like that bad luck would continue this season when they drew Arkansas as their rotating West opponent this year. But now the perception around that game has changed since the Razorbacks have lost back-to-back non-conference games, and this could be the season the Vols end the losing streak to SEC West teams.
One of the more surprising losing streaks the Vols have accumulated is against the Missouri Tigers. The Vols had never played Missouri until the Tigers joined the SEC in 2012, but Tennessee has yet to defeat them since then. Tennessee is 0-3 against Missouri and hasn't really been all that competitive in the last two games. Missouri has won the SEC East the last two seasons, but the Tigers look like they've dropped off significantly this season, and the Vols should finally have more overall talent than Missouri when the two play this year.
Finally, the Vols have a chance to end a drought against ranked opponents this season as well. Tennessee had a chance to end it against Oklahoma but ultimately failed to do so. After that loss, the Vols fell to 0-9 against ranked opponents since defeating a top 10 South Carolina team 23-21 in 2013. The Vols will have a couple shots to end this streak in 2015, as currently three teams (Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri) are currently ranked in the top 25. While Missouri is likely to fall out of the rankings before the two teams face off, Georgia and Alabama will still be ranked when Tennessee plays them barring some catastrophe on their end.
The Vols have too many active losing streaks in 2015. The Vols have lost too many consecutive times against too many teams, and it's time to end some of these streaks. Even if the Vols can just knock off a couple losing streaks, it will go a long way to improving the image and prestige of the program. Tennessee has their first shot on Saturday to end their longest one against Florida, and they'll have plenty of chances moving forward to end the rest.