For the past two decades you could pretty much scan the opponent's roster and know if the Big Orange had a chance to win or not. If the foe had a national ranking, the Vols almost always lost.
Buzz Peterson (2001-05) coached 33 games against teams ranked in the national top 25 during his four-year tenure at Tennessee, winning just nine times. He was 3-13 against foes ranked in the top 10, beating No, 8 Syracuse 66-62 and No. 6 Kentucky 76-74 in 2001-02 and beating No. 4 Florida 66-59 in 2002-03. All three games were played in Knoxville.
Wade Houston (1989-94), like Peterson, coached 33 games against ranked opponents. He also went 9-24. Houston was 4-9 against teams ranked in the top 10. The wins came against No. 8 Kentucky (107-85) and No. 5 Arkansas (83-81), in 1991-92, No. 8 Memphis State (70-59) in 1992-93 and No. 2 Kentucky (78-77) in 1993-94 – all in Knoxville.
Kevin O'Neill (1994-97) coached 14 games against ranked foes in his three-year tenure, winning once. He was 0-8 against top-10 opponents.
Jerry Green (1997-2001), blessed with arguably the best talent in school history, went 19-11 in his first 30 games against ranked foes, then lost five in a row to finish at 19-16. Tennessee was ranked even higher than its foe in 14 of those games, winning eight of them. The Vols upset a higher-ranked team 11 times in 21 meetings. Oddly enough, Green coached just five games in five years against top-10 opponents, winning three. The scores were 47-46 at No. 6 Kentucky (1998-99), 81-79 at No. 9 Florida and 105-76 over Auburn (1999-2000).
Clearly, big wins against favored foes don't come along very often. That's one more reason to savor Saturday's trouncing of Texas.