Perhaps the most intriguing game on the schedule this year for Texas A&M football is their road contest against the Tennessee Volunteers. Not only are the Volunteers one of the most interesting teams in the league—if not all of college football—the placement relative to the rest of the Aggies’ games makes this a pivotal contest for the Maroon and White this year.
Since coming into the league, the Aggies and Volunteers have faced off twice. The first meeting, in 2016, was probably the wildest game at Kyle Field that Texas A&M football has played in since entering the SEC.
That 2016 game involved all of the following
- A Trevor Knight INT within the first 30 seconds of game time
- Myles Garrett destroying Josh Dobbs and generally wrecking shop
- A screen taken for around 55 yards by Alvin Kamara before Armani Watts literally ripped the football from his hands on about the 7-yard line
- Tennessee doing the Philly Special before the Philly Special
- Freshman Trayveon Williams murking a backup corner
- Cullen Gillaspia making an enemy of the entire Tennessee fanbase
- The extremely rare and notable Speedy Noil big play
- Lots of extremely strange and improbable turnovers for both teams
- Josh Reynolds making a one-handed catch on a play that looks just like Johnny to Mike Evans in the 2013 Alabama game
- Donovan Wilson pulling off just about the most perfect nickel blitz I’ve ever seen
- Claude George trying really hard (but ultimately unsuccessfully) to get a sack fumble
- Trevor Knight with a huge touchdown run that should have iced the game but didn’t
- The dumbest rule in football victimizing A&M
- Tennessee tying the game with 40 seconds left after trailing by 21 late in the 3rd quarter
- Daniel LaCamera absolutely shanking a potential game-winning 38-yard FG at the end of regulation
- Daniel LaCamera very quickly redeeming himself
- Christian Kirk and Trevor Knight with OT heroics to put the Aggies up a score
- Armani Watts sealing the Vols’ fate with a diving INT
This isn’t even to mention the very strange saga of Volunteer DL Danny O’Brien, who was carted off the field with a scary-looking injury, declared to be all good not long after the game, but then dismissed from the team two days later for unrelated reasons.
All this to say, while 2018 LSU definitely holds the title for craziest game at Kyle Field since the Ags have joined the conference—and possibly ever—that 2016 UT game was up there with it, pound-for-pound. LSU might have been a more “top-heavy” game (what with how crazy the ending and OT were) but 2016 Tennessee was insane the whole way through.
The 2020 matchup between Texas A&M football and the Volunteers was much more low-key. It occurred on conference championship weekend, as it had to be delayed due to COVID protocols within the A&M program. The Vols were much more overmatched, and that 2020 Texas A&M football team was rolling en route to an eventual Orange Bowl victory and top-4 finish.
The return to Neyland Stadium in 2023 for Texas A&M football figures to be a much more difficult venture. Tennessee won an Orange Bowl themselves this past year, triumphing over Clemson 31-14. They return several key pieces offensively, as well as senior QB Joe Milton, who took over for Hendon Hooker following an injury against South Carolina.
All that said, let’s dive more deeply into 2022 for Tennessee and how they project going forward.