Monday's Sugar Bowl put Vols fans in an unprecedented situation. Tennessee's current head coach was coordinating Alabama's defense in a college football playoff semifinal.
Sounds sort of like an oxymoron but it happened. Many Vol fans were rooting for Pruitt to be successful on the national stage.
His defense was outstanding in the Crimson Tide's 24-6 win over Clemson. Pruitt's unit held Clemson to season lows in total yards (188), passing yards (124) and rushing yards (64), did not allow a touchdown for the fifth time this season, and actually outscored the Tigers, 7-6.
The Tide's defense made several game-deciding plays in the pivotal third quarter.
Alabama led 10-3 when Tide QB Jalen Hurts fumbled on the first play of the second half, giving Clemson the ball at Alabama's 20-yard line.
Pruitt's defense stepped up, making two stops for negative yardage and holding the Tigers to a field goal.
After an Alabama three-and-out, Pruitt's unit went to work again. He called a blitz on 2nd-and-2 and linebacker Anfernee Jennings came screaming off the edge and delivered a hit to the chest of Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant just as he threw the ball. The errant pass landed in the arms of Alabama defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne and he returned it 21 yards to set up the Tide inside the Clemson 30-yard line.
Payne entered the game on offense several plays later in a goal line package and caught a one-yard touchdown pass.
Alabama took complete control of the game on the next play from scrimmage when linebacker Mack Wilson picked off a tipped pass and took it 18 yards to the house to give the Tide a 24-6 lead.
The Crimson Tide will now take on Georgia in the National Championship Game on Monday, January 8.
Pruitt was announced as Tennessee's head coach on December 7 and said that after recruiting for the Vols, he would return to Alabama during the recruiting dead period to finish out the season and fulfill what he felt was an obligation to the players he recruited there.
Pruitt's Tennessee staff signed 14 recruits during the first ever football early signing period in December, boosting the Vols 2018 recruiting class from 54th to 21st in the country in the 247Sports Composite team rankings.