Here are five key takeaways from the victory:
1. Vol Nation Shows Out in Record Numbers
For the first time since Sept. 12, 2015, Neyland Stadium was sold out for a non-conference game—as a capacity crowd of 101,915 was on hand to watch the Vols final game prior to SEC play.
“College football is as good as it gets,” head coach Josh Heupel said. “This fan base is as good as it gets. They are caring. They are passionate. You can feel their energy. You can feel their optimism. You can feel their belief. Our entire program can feel that on the outside, too. I have never been a part of anything like tonight. During the Vol Walk, they were all sitting at the bottom of the hill, but then [the crowd] was going back up the hill. It is special. It is awesome.”
Saturday also marked the first sellout game in Neyland Stadium against a non-Power Five opponent since Aug. 31, 2014 vs. Utah State (102,455). In addition to Saturday’s sellout against Akron, next week’s SEC-opener against Florida is already sold out as well—giving Tennessee back-to-back sold out home games for the first time since 2016, when the Vols sold out games against Florida (Sept. 24) and Alabama (Oct.15).
2. Hooker Passes on the Field and in the Record Books
Entering Saturday’s game, Hendon Hooker sat in eighth place for most career passing touchdowns in school history. With a pair of touchdown strikes to Jalin Hyatt—one from 57 yards and one from 48 yards—Hooker gained sole possession of seventh place in the program record books with 37 scoring tosses. He passed Jonathan Crompton (2006-09), Heath Shuler (1991-93) and Andy Kelly (1998-91) with his two-touchdown outing on Saturday.
Hooker finished the night 14-for-18 through the air for 298 yards and two touchdowns—completing each of his final 12 passes. In addition to his ascension up the career touchdown passes list, Hooker has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 15 straight games, which is second in program history behind…