Blog ... Tennessee Top 10 Program Wins
Posted Jun 22, 2008

Everybody has memories of their favorite Tennessee Football game.

Everybody has memories of their favorite Tennessee Football game. Having witnessed 40 some odd years of the Big Orange playing on crisp fall Saturdays, while my dad has about 65 plus seasons of Tennessee Football within him. I won't embarrass him by saying how many plus years there are within that.

Some games we agree on, and some we don't as he remembers things that he saw that were important to him and his memories. The following Top 10 UT games mark what I've seen that helps define Tennessee Football.

1. The 1998 National Championship Game in which Tennessee defeated one of the nations top football programs in Florida State. It is was truly a Fiesta for everyone wearing Orange and White nation-wide that night. The Vols 23-17 win marked one of the best runs in college football by dominating the mid to late ‘90's with relative ease.

2. 1998 Arkansas – the Clint Stoerner fumble between two 8-0 teams headed on a collision course all season long. After UT recovered the fumble, the off -- on drizzling rains began coming down, with it brought one of the loudest vocal renditions of Rocky Top ever sung by a 100K plus football crowd. Travis Henry punched the football into the end zone to put the Volunteers up 28-24 after trailing by 3. Without the hard charging legs and the determination of Henry, the recovered fumble would be just a recovered fumble.

3. The 1986 Sugar Bowl win over Heisman Trophy winner Vinnie Testaverde and the Miami Hurricanes was so much sweeter than any sugar being served up in New Orleans. The underdog Vols dominating 35-7 victory affirmed Tennessee was still a national football power.

4. 1995 Tennessee over Alabama that began the longest win streak over the Crimson Tide by one program that lasted for eight consecutive years. Peyton Manning's arm and Joey Kent's pass catching and yards after the catch, that let everyone watching the game that greatness was coming - and soon.

5. 1969 saw Tennessee manhandling the Crimson Tide for the third straight time in Birmingham. Was this same 41-14 score and the 1995 score of the same an omen? As many a Statistician has pondered game scoring before; what were the odds of this exact same score happening between two teams that many years apart? It's way smaller than previously imagined obviously within it's probabilities. As UT won the SEC Crown in '69, it was only topping on a fantastic season.

6. 2001 Florida, the end of Johnson City native Steve Spurrier's career in Florida as a former player and then the coach. The game will always be remembered as "the little engine that did," with UT running back Travis Stephens gutsy on field performance in the 34 –32 win. The 226-yard rushing show by Stephens gave his Coach, Phillip Fulmer his first ever win in sticky-humid Gainesville.

7. The 1971 win over Joe Pa and Penn State by the youngest head coach in the NCAA with UT's Bill Battle. ABC Sports tabbed it the game of the week, would broadcast Tennessee's 31-11 victory over the then 5th ranked Nittany Lions nationally. A crane was brought into Neyland Stadium to hoist the ABC Logo Sign into the air over the crowds, more than a hundred feet in the sky.

8. 1991 Notre Dame saw UT fans turning off the TV and heading outdoors early as the Big Orange fell behind the "Catholic School Girls" in a rendition of Blue Oyster Cult's "Joan Crawford Has Rise From The Grave." Trailing the Irish 31 to 7 at the half, left little hope for UT. When things could get no more dismal, the Volunteers came back in what is regarded as the greatest comeback in UT history. RB Aaron Hayden's catch and run into the end zone gets longer and longer each season. Hayden ran out of the stadium to field the ball, then ran 4 blocks, stopped to eat an Orange-Dreamsicle at the local five and ten, before reentering the stadium to run past Touchdown Jesus for the game winning score in Tennessee's 35-34 win over Notre Dame.

9. One of the top fifteen games ever played on Shields-Watkins Field was the 1998 game with Florida that got UT's national title run in gear as Place-kicker Jeff Hall booted a field goal in overtime to put UT ahead. Florida missed on its OT 3-pointer and Tennessee beat the Gators after a five-year drought 20-17.

10. 2002, the dismantling of Michigan 45-17 in the Citrus Bowl. Just as a former ex-Florida coach Steve Spurrier had joked, "you can't spell Citrus without UT" was exactly correct. Tennessee dismantled the Wolverines in quick fashion under a sunny Orlando sky, as Spurrier's own alma mater has never been able to beat Michigan.

11. * For Good Measure – The 1990 Cotton Bowl win over Arkansas,

There are many other games like the 1990 Disney Pigskin Classic tie with Colorado, a 1972 win over Penn State that marked two straight and was the first night game, the 1997 win over UCLA – a game played in soaring heat that should have been played at night, the 1999 drumming of Notre Dame 38-14, 2000 win over Arkansas 63-20, and recently the 35-18 abomination of Cal and a 51-33 decimation of Georgia in Athens in 2006.

It's hard to pick a list of games and narrow it down when you have witnessed over 420 some odd games played. Certainly there were games of lesser value nationally that come to mind. I am sure many of you fans can remember a few games that left an impression on you. What's yours?

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