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Tennessee upsets Alabama: Jalin Hyatt piles up five TDs for Vols as Tide allow most points since 1907

There are so many numbers within the 52-49 final score that sum up No. 6 Tennessee beating No. 3 Alabama on Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s going to take a day or so for all the history made to really sink in for Vols fans who no doubt are still carrying goal posts from Neyland Stadium to somewhere in town.

With no victories against Nick Saban since he took over in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the win snapped a 15-year losing streak in the “Third Saturday in October” rivalry, a series that stretches back to 1901 with 105 meetings. It’s also been since 1907 that Alabama has allowed this many points in a game to any opponent; Tennessee’s 52 points scored is the fourth-most all-time points allowed in Crimson Tide football history.

But even beyond the team accomplishments are a few individual performances that will resonate throughout the history of Tennessee football, including a record-setting showing from wide receiver Jalin Hyatt. The junior from Irmo, South Carolina, had six catches for 207 yards and was on the receiving end of all five of Hendon Hooker’s touchdown passes. The five touchdowns broke the Tennessee single-game school record of three (which was held by 12 players, including teammate Cedric Tillman), and a couple of those scores were huge turning points in the win.

Hyatt put the Alabama defense on notice early with his speed on a 36-yard touchdown that capped a 76-second drive to answer the Crimson Tide’s game-tying score and give Tennessee a 14-7 lead. A few minutes later, Alabama’s miscues provided a short field for the Tennessee offense and Hooker took advantage, linking up with Hyatt again to extend the lead to 21-7.

While Hyatt’s totals are certainly eye-popping, the real swings in the game from him came in the second half with what can best be identified as potentially back-breaking touchdowns for Alabama’s defense. It was at this point that Hyatt’s dominance against the Crimson Tide’s secondary had really become apparent.

First, he broke loose for a 60-yard touchdown on a go route in the third quarter …

… and then got loose for a 78-yard, catch-and-run score in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

Both touchdowns gave Tennessee a lead that Alabama would go on to match, but Hyatt delivered once again later in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard touchdown reception – his fifth of the night – to tie the game at 49-49 with less than four minutes remaining.

Hyatt’s emergence as a star has been a major storyline in Tennessee’s success over the last month. Saturday’s record-setting performance marked the third time in four games that he’s logged multiple receiving touchdowns, and all of this has come in the midst of the Vols’ missing starting wide receiver Cedric Tillman with an ankle injury.

When Tillman returns to the lineup, this Tennessee passing attack will now have a look that can rival Ohio State as one of the best in the country. The combination of elite quarterback play and having multiple high-level receiving options is rare in college football, and as LSU showed in 2019, it can power a national championship run. Such talk felt premature for Tennessee prior to the weekend, but in the wake of beating Alabama and likely jumping into the top five of the college football rankings, it is time to start treating the Vols like the other national championship contenders in 2022.

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