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This Week in UT Sports History – Oct. 14th-20th

Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly column written by RTI columnist Lexie Little

The 2019 Tennessee Football squad (2-4, 1-2 SEC) picked up their second win (the first in-conference) on Saturday in Knoxville, defeating Mississippi State (3-3, 1-2 SEC) 20-10. The Vols now hold a 29-16 win advantage in the series with the Bulldogs, which dates back to 1907. The series includes plenty of memorable moments, including the 1998 Southeastern Conference Championship in Atlanta when the undefeated Vols also beat the Bulldogs by 10 points, 24-14, on the road to the national title.

Take a look back at other football moments and more in “This Week in UT Sports History.”

Oct. 14, 1939

While movies offered hope to audiences with messages like “There’s no place like home” and “After all, tomorrow is another day,” the Tennessee Volunteers offered hope for an SEC title 80 years ago this week with a win over Chattanooga at Chamberlain Field, 28-0.

With defensive mastermind Robert Neyland at the helm, the Vols earned their third shutout of the season. In 1939, the Vols went undefeated during the regular season—each game a shutout—becoming the last NCAA team to keep opponents scoreless en route to perfection in the regular season. Tennessee’s only loss came against the University of Southern California in the Rose Bowl, ironically shut out 14-0.

The AP wire story summed up the win: “With reserves showing the way, Tennessee’s vaunted Volunteers marched through a stubborn but hopelessly outclassed University of Chattanooga team, 28 to 0, before eight thousand spectators today.”

The varsity Vols went through the motions early in the match-up, seemingly saving strength for the Third Saturday in October against Alabama. The Associated Press reported Tennessee looked sluggish early on, “anything but the powerhouse that bowled aside all opposition” the year prior. However, the future general refused to lose, commanding reserves to enter the game and win the battle.

“The attack of Tennessee’s varsity bogged down completely, but it was revived when Major Bob Neyland inserted a new team at the start of the second quarter,” the wire story continued. “In quick succession, the reserves reeled off three scores…third string fullback Fred Newman crashed over from the Chattanooga 6-yard stripe to complete the Vol marches into pay-dirt territory.”

The next week, No. 5 Tennessee defeated No. 8 Alabama 21-0 at Shields-Watkins Field in front of a reported crowd of 40,000.

Oct. 17, 2003

Defensive strategy historically works well for Vol teams, and the 2003 Lady Vol volleyball team proved no exception. Tennessee registered 53 digs and 11 blocks against SEC rival Auburn, winning 3-0 (30-22, 30-18, 31-29) in Knoxville on Oct. 17, 2003.

The young defensive front showed promise for the future. Freshman Sarah Blum recorded eight of the Lady Vols’ 11 blocks, extending her streak of eight-plus blocks in consecutive matches. However, coach Rob Patrick wanted more.

“Even though we registered 11 blocks, our blocking was not in sync the entire match,” Patrick said in an interview for “We were blocking the right people, but technically we weren’t doing the right things to finish the block.”

That season, the Vols earned a record of 22-9 (10-6 SEC), losing to Florida in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament to close out the postseason after edging by Georgia (W, 3-2) in the first round. The Gators gave the Lady Vols fits all season, beating Tennessee in three sets in each of three match-ups.

Tennessee Volleyball defended its home court in William B. Stokely Athletic Center—which was home to the basketball programs until 1987—and continued to play at the facility until 2008. Like Thompson-Boling Arena, Stokely Athletic Center accommodated events other than athletics, notably hosting Elvis Presley three times in the 1970s.

The following season in Stokely, the Vols only lost one match at home, going 32-3 overall. The Vols earned the SEC Tournament title by beating the Gators in five sets in Gainesville, Florida. The No. 9 Lady Vols finished the 2004 season in the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals against No. 7 Ohio State.

Again, Patrick attributed the outcome to defense.

“I’m very proud of the team, not only for this match, but for the whole season,” Patrick said. “Ohio State played very good defense, providing their offense with opportunities. I don’t feel like our defense stopped them the way we could have.”

The 2019 Tennessee Volleyball squad will try to defend its home court in Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday against Kentucky. Second-year head coach Eve Rackham and the Vols will face the Wildcats at 7:00 p.m. The match will be televised on ESPNU.

Oct. 20, 1990

The 2019 Football Vols head to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this weekend to take on the Crimson Tide for yet another Third Saturday in October face-off at 9:00 p.m. ET. Though the series itself remains an important Tennessee tradition, match-ups with Alabama led to the creation of other UT traditions, including the Vol Walk.

The Vol Walk started 29 years ago this week when the Tide rolled into Knoxville.

Three weeks earlier, Johnny Majors and the Vols found themselves stuck in the middle of the Tiger Walk on the way to Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. While watching the Tiger tradition, Majors decided to adopt the event for Tennessee. The Vols would, from then on that season, walk together from Gibbs Hall (the athletic dorm) to Gate 21 at Neyland Stadium.

Routes have changed in terms of both path and length in the three decades since, but the idea remains the same. The team connects with fans, family and friends as they travel to the stadium to prepare for the game two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff.

The next home Vol Walk down Peyton Manning Pass comes prior to the match-up with South Carolina on Oct. 26. Game time has not yet been announced. This week’s game against No. 1 Alabama will be televised on ESPN at 9 p.m.

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