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Tennessee Football turning point vs. Iowa: Andre Turrentine interception

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Nico Iamaleava and a 35-0 blowout win over the Big Ten West champions are the stories of Tennessee Football beating the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Citrus Bowl Monday. However, the biggest play of the game happened when everything was still in doubt, and it was on the defensive side of the ball for the Vols.

After both teams’ first drives stalled, UT shanked a punt. You felt that the Vols could lose this game due to mistakes, as penalties on their first drive cost them. That’s how Iowa wins games to begin with and how they got to 10-2 in the regular season: making fewer mistakes and winning in field position.

Now, near midfield, Kirk Ferentz pulled out all the stops and used misdirection run plays to catch Tennessee Football off guard and get into the red zone. On 1st and goal from the four-yard line in the first quarter, it seemed like Iowa would take an early 7-0 lead.

That’s when the defense finally stepped up. They were the more physical team all day, an impressive accomplishment given the fact that linemen are Iowa’s calling card, and they stopped the Hawkeyes on two straight runs. Ferentz dialed up a pass on 3rd and goal.

Deacon Hill threw into a crowd of defensive backs and receivers, and Andre Turrentine came down with an incredible interception. That pick ruined out the one good drive Iowa typically has in a game. It was also huge for a UT team that had so many secondary transfers and opt outs.

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As a backup who people are questioning, Turrentine made a huge statement there. Given the fact that the Vols showed their physicality beforehand, they at least seemingly answered a lot of concerns surrounding their defense heading into 2024.

In this game, following that pick, the two teams did trade punts again, but then Tennessee Football was able to get rolling on offense in the second quarter. Once that happened, this was easily going to turn into a blowout win for them, and that’s exactly what happened.

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