The Tennessee Volunteers football team posted an 9-4 record for the second consecutive season.
Tennessee (9-4, 4-4 SEC) began this season 5-0, lost three straight games and went 4-4 in its last eight games.
The Vols ended the season with a 38-24 win in the Music City Bowl over Nebraska. It marked Tennessee's third consecutive year with a bowl win over a Big Ten opponent to conclude a season.
Vols head coach Butch Jones has told media members multiple times that he’s never seen a season quite like Tennessee’s 2016 campaign in 30-plus years of coaching.
Here’s a timeline of Tennessee’s 2016 season.
July 14, 2016: The Tennessee Volunteers were projected to finish first in the SEC East, according to the SEC’s preseason media poll.
The Vols earned 225 first-place votes to win the East division, which was more than triple that of projected runner-up Florida (57).
Aug. 21, 2016: Tennessee began the 2016 season ranked ninth in the Associated Press' Top 25 Poll. UT was last ranked in the top 10 on Oct. 29, 2006.
Sept. 1, 2016: Tennessee survived an overtime thriller in a 20-13 overtime win against Appalachian State at Neyland Stadium.
Senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs dove into the end zone trying to score a touchdown in overtime, but fumbled the ball in the process. Junior running back Jalen Hurd recovered the loose ball in the end zone for the touchdown to give Tennessee the lead for the rest of the game.
Sept. 10, 2016: Tennessee scored 31 unanswered points to beat Virginia Tech 45-24 in the Battle at Bristol.
The game set a record for the largest crowd at a college football game ever with 156,990 fans at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Sophomore linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. suffered a high ankle sprain in the win. Kirkland returned from the injury in the South Carolina game on Oct. 29.
Tennessee Vols and Virginia Tech Hokies in the Battle at Bristol
Photo Gallery: Photos from the Battle at Bristol
Sept. 17, 2016: Tennessee managed to beat Ohio 28-19 at Neyland Stadium, but not without injuries to senior cornerback Cameron Sutton and redshirt freshman linebacker Quart'e Sapp.
Sutton didn't return from a fractured right ankle injury until the Kentucky game on Nov. 12, and Sapp tore his ACL. Sapp didn't return to action in 2016.
Sept. 22, 2016: Florida defensive back Quincy Wilson engaged in some trash talk ahead of the team's matchup against Tennessee on Sept. 24.
"Have you ever seen a duck pull a truck? Ducks don’t pull trucks. Nobody has ever seen a duck pull a truck," Wilson said. "Florida Gators are going to win, simple as that.”
The Oregon Ducks posted a video of their mascot pulling a truck shortly after Wilson's comments.
September 22, 2016
Have you ever seen a Duck pull a truck?
Sept. 24, 2016: Tennessee snapped its 11-year losing streak to Florida in a 38-28 win at Neyland Stadium.
The Vols trailed 21-0 late in the first half of the game before scoring 38 unanswered points.
College GameDay also held its pregame show in front of Ayres Hall on the University of Tennessee's campus.
Gameday: The Vols take on the Florida Gators at Neyland
Photo Gallery: The Vols take on the Gators at Neyland Stadium
Oct. 1, 2016: Joshua Dobbs threw a 43-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jauan Jennings on the final play of the game to seal a 34-31 win over Georgia.
Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Riley Ridley with 10 seconds left in the game. An extra point gave Georgia a 31-28 lead.
ESPN Stats and Info estimated the Vols had a 0.23 percent chance to win the game after Georgia's touchdown pass.
Tennessee won at Sanford Stadium for the first time since Oct. 7 2006.
Tennessee's chance to win fell to 0.23 percent after Georgia's extra point with 10 seconds left. pic.twitter.com/NotZYM3DhB— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 2, 2016
Oct. 7, 2016: Sophomore safety Micah Abernathy wrote a story remembering his late father in The Players' Tribune.
Oct. 8, 2016: Tennessee lost to Texas A&M 45-38 in double overtime. It marked Tennessee's first loss of the season.
The Vols turned the ball over seven times in the loss.
ESPN's College GameDay also broadcasted its pregame show from College Station, Texas.
GoVols247 reported senior linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin would miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
Oct. 10, 2016: Tennessee dismissed redshirt senior defensive tackle Danny O'Brien from the team due to a violation of team rules.
O'Brien was immobilized and carted off the field on a stretcher during the fourth quarter of UT's double overtime loss to Texas A&M.
Oct. 12, 2016: Sophomore wide receiver Preston Williams announced his intentions to transfer from Tennessee.
Williams wound up signing with Colorado State.
Oct. 15, 2016: Alabama crushed Tennessee 49-10 in the 2016 edition of the "third Saturday in October."
The Crimson Tide finished the game with 438 rushing yards, which marked the team's highest rushing output since 1986.
The Vols last beat the Crimson Tide on Oct. 21, 2006.
The last #Vols win against an SEC West opponent came against Ole Miss on Nov. 13, 2010.— Mark Bergin (@mdbergin) October 17, 2016
Tennessee's next chance to beat an SEC West team in regular season play will come Oct. 21, 2017, against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.— johnnorth (@jnbeatlefan) October 17, 2016
Oct. 17, 2016: Sophomore defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie sustained a season-ending torn pectoral muscle injury in the loss to Alabama.
Oct. 26, 2016: USA TODAY released its head coach salary database.
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones' salary of $4.11 million ranked ninth in the Southeastern Conference, and 18th nationally.
Editor's Note: The chart below compares SEC coaches' salaries. It also compares each coaches' wins, losses, bowl wins, national championships and SEC championships while the coach has been with his respective school. The stats are as of Dec. 16, 2016.
Oct. 29, 2016: Tennessee lost its third consecutive game in a 24-21 road loss to South Carolina.
Gamecocks freshman quarterback Jake Bentley won his second career start.
The loss marked Tennessee's first loss to an unranked opponent in 2016.
Evan Berry had a kickoff return touchdown in the loss.
Oct. 31, 2016: News broke on running back Jalen Hurd's decision to transfer.
Butch Jones denied any schematic promises made to Hurd that might have prompted the transfer.
Hurd is eligible to go pro if he decides to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft, which is scheduled for April 27-29.
Jones announced sophomore defensive tackle Shy Tuttle would miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury too.
Nov. 5, 2016: Tennessee secured bowl eligibility for a third consecutive season in a 55-0 Homecoming win against Tennessee Tech.
In his first career start, sophomore running back John Kelly rushed for 104 yards on seven attempts. Kelly had a 73-yard touchdown run in the win.
Nov. 7, 2016: Butch Jones announced defensive back and kick returner Evan Berry would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Berry is a junior and averaged 32.9 yards per kickoff return in 2016. He also had 12 combined tackles.
Nov. 12, 2016: Quarterback Joshua Dobbs accounted for five touchdowns in a 49-36 win over Kentucky.
Tennessee became the first FBS team this season to allow more than 400 rushing yards and still win the game. Previously, teams were 0-30 this year when allowing 400 yards or more on the ground.
Both teams accounted for 1,234 total yards in the game.
PHOTOS: Vols take on Kentucky Wildcats
Photo Gallery: Tennessee takes on Kentucky
Nov. 17, 2016: News broke of freshman running back Jeremy Lewis' intention to transfer from Tennessee.
Nov. 19, 2016: Quarterback Joshua Dobbs accounted for five touchdowns in Tennessee's 63-37 win over Missouri on Senior Day.
Both teams compiled 1,349 total yards in the game.
Florida's 16-10 win over LSU overshadowed Tennessee's victory because the Gators' win secured their second consecutive SEC East title.
Tennessee hasn't won the SEC East since 2007.
Gameday photos: Vols take on Mizzou Tigers
Photo Gallery: Tennessee takes on Missouri
A reporter asked Jones what his emotions were of his senior class walking through the T for the final time on Senior Day against Missouri.
Jones made the following statement (Editor's Note: Scroll to 36:55):
"When we talked about winning championships, they're a champion. They've won the biggest championship and that's the championship of life. They're going to be college graduates. Some of them already are college graduates. What they've brought from a leadership standpoint, from a stability standpoint, from getting Tennessee football back. It used to be just win a game, and now it's not just winning the game, it's how you win the game, and it's now what's next. That's everything that they've built over the course time."
Nov. 23, 2016: Butch Jones attempted to clarify his "champions of life" comment.
"I'm still amazed that when I talk to people and I bring up the success of this program in the last four years, it's minimized," Jones said. "I don't understand how it can be minimized."
Running back Alvin Kamara, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, defensive end Derek Barnett and Jones' son kicker Alex Jones visited the Chattanooga school bus crash victims on this date too.
Nov. 26, 2016: Vanderbilt's 45-34 upset victory over Tennessee nixed the Vols' chances to earn a Sugar Bowl berth and a 10-win season.
Butch Jones made a brief media appearance almost immediately after the game when most reporters were not in the media room. He took questions for less than four minutes before departing.
Tennessee junior defensive end Derek Barnett tied Reggie White's UT program record of 32 career sacks.
Barnett sacked Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur to end the first half and tie White's program record.
Shurmur threw for a career-high 416 yards. Shurmur's previous single-game career high of 279 passing yards came in an overtime win against Western Kentucky earlier in the season.
The Commodores secured a bowl birth for the first time since 2013.
Photos: Vols and Vandy do battle in Nashville
Photo Gallery: Tennessee plays Vanderbilt
Nov. 30, 2016: Joshua Dobbs, offensive lineman Brett Kendrick and several UT cheerleaders made a surprise visit to the shelter at Rocky Top Sports World following devastating Sevier County wildfires.
Dec. 4, 2016: Bowl officials announced Tennessee and Nebraska would play each other in the Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on Dec. 30.
Tennessee had an 0-2 record in its previous two contests against Nebraska.
· Jan. 2, 1998: Nebraska beat Tennessee 42-17 in the Orange Bowl
· Jan. 2, 2000: Nebraska beat Tennessee 31-21 in the Fiesta Bowl
Dec. 5, 2016: Butch Jones will receive a $100,000 bonus for appearing in the Music City Bowl.
For appearing in a bowl game outside the College Football Playoff, a "New Year's Six" bowl game, the Citrus Bowl or Outback Bowl, Jones earns an additional $100,000, according to his contract, which runs through 2020.
The other bowl games would each pay him between $200,000 and $400,000.
In addition, Jones can earn $500,000 if his team wins the College Football Playoff national championship game.
Jones also announced sophomore offensive tackle Chance Hall would miss the Music City Bowl to recover from knee surgery.
Dec. 6, 2016: Five-star offensive tackle Trey Smith committed to Tennessee at University School of Jackson.
Smith is ranked the No. 1 overall player in the state of Tennessee, and the number three offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports.
Junior defensive end Derek Barnett, senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs and junior kick returner Evan Berry earned All-SEC Coaches' team honors.
Dec. 9, 2016: UT Athletics announced the football team would wear its "smokey grey" uniforms in the Music City Bowl for the Gatlinburg wildfire victims.
Dec. 12, 2016: The Associated Press named Tennessee Volunteers junior defensive end Derek Barnett as a first team All-American.
Barnett is the lone Tennessee player on any of the AP’s three All-American teams this season. UT’s junior defensive end is among eight SEC players on the first team, and among 18 SEC players on all three teams.
Barnett and redshirt junior defensive lineman Kendal Vickers are the only two Tennessee defensive players to start in all 12 games this season.
Dec. 13, 2016: Butch Jones made it a point to defend his program's culture.
Jones said he is not going to stand for anybody "attacking our football program because it's untrue."
The entire Tennessee football team signed autographs at Rocky Top Sports World for victims of the Gatlinburg wildfires.
Dec. 26, 2016: The Tennessee Volunteers football team held its final on-campus practice of the season ahead of the team’s Music City Bowl contest against Nebraska.
Dec. 27, 2016: Members of the Tennessee Vols football team had some fun at the Music City Bowl welcome party.
Vols offensive lineman Thomas Edwards and Jack Jones, and safety Evan Berry won the songwriting competition.
A shirtless 340-pound lineman Charles Mosley led the Vols eating 11 Hattie B's hot chicken tenders, but Nebraska lineman Garret Johns took home the individual championship belt, eating 12 tenders and then beating his teammate in an eat-off.
Dec. 30, 2016: Joshua Dobbs joined Peyton Manning as the only Tennessee quarterbacks to win three consecutive bowl games when the Vols defeated Nebraska 38-24 in the Music City Bowl.
The Tennessee senior and Music City Bowl MVP played in his last game for the Tennessee Vols. Dobbs finishes his Tennessee career with a 23-12 record as a starter.
Dobbs ran for three touchdowns and 118 rushing yards, and threw for 291 yards and another score.
Junior defensive end Derek Barnett broke Reggie White's program record for career sacks in the win.
Tennessee Volunteers career sacks leaders:
1. Derek Barnett, 2014-present: 33 sacks
2. Reggie White, 1980-1983: 32 sacks
3. Leonard Little, 1995-1997: 28 sacks
4. Jonathan Brown, 1994-1997: 25 sacks
5. Todd Kelly, 1989-1992: 22.5 sacks
Redshirt junior running back Alvin Kamara will forego his senior season to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.