You were there.
Eleven years. Eleven games. Florida’s winning streak had held taut.
On Saturday, September 24, 2016, the duck pulled the truck. And the Tennessee Volunteers regained control of the two teams’ storied rivalry with a thrilling 38-28 victory after being behind 21-3 at the half.
And you were there.
You didn’t have to actually be there to be there. It doesn’t matter if you were seated in Neyland Stadium along with the other 102, 454 Tennessee faithful in attendance.
You could have been watching the game at a restaurant, up to your neck in buffalo wings and the sweet comradery of Rocky Top nation.
You could have been in your dorm, attempting to focus on your biology homework, yet ultimately unable to as you watch in awe as Jauan Jennings burns Jalen Tabor on a beautiful 67-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Dobbs.
Or you could have simply been stationed on your favorite couch at home, free from all of the distractions that being on campus can bring, cheering on the Volunteers along with your family.
It doesn’t matter. You were there. You were a freshman at the University of Tennessee the year that the curse was broken, the streak was ended. The year that Tennessee finally made it happen.
For two years in a row, the Volunteers lost by only one point. In 2014, the Gators, led by freshman QB Treon Harris, just barely escaped Knoxville with a win in an ugly 10-9 skirmish.
In 2015, Aaron Medley’s 55-yard field goal with no time remaining on the clock just barely missed to the right of the goalposts, securing the 28-27 victory for Florida.
These are not outcomes that most Vol fans want to revisit. But that’s what makes it all the more thrilling. You were there the year that the tables were turned.
What does this all mean for Team 120?
Butch Jones now has his sights set on the Georgia Bulldogs, whom the team will face as they make the trip to Athens over the weekend. If all goes according to plan, the Volunteers just might make it to the SEC Championship in Atlanta. And maybe even to the College Football Playoff.
But that’s several months away. Today, Vol Nation still can’t wipe the smile from its face as memories of the checkerboard masquerading as Neyland Stadium, the long passes sailing through the air, soon to be caught by Jauan Jennings or Josh Malone, and double-checking the numbers on the scoreboard to make sure that this wasn’t all a dream still linger.
And you were there.