3 Games that Defined the Johnny Majors Era of Tennessee Football

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    35-28 vs. No. 2 Alabama – Oct. 16, 1982

    Tennessee came into their annual October clash with No. 2 Alabama with an underwhelming 2-2-1 mark, having lost games to Duke and Auburn with narrow wins against Washington State and Iowa State.

    The week before their showdown with Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide in Knoxville, the Vols had tied No. 18 LSU 24-24 in Baton Rouge.

    Alabama, on the other hand, hadn’t lost to Tennessee since 1970 and was coming off of a dominating 42-21 win over No. 3 Penn State. Outside of the program, there was little hope the Vols could pull off the upset.

    Tennessee took the field in all orange uniforms as the 1982 World’s Fair was being hosted outside of Neyland Stadium. Inside, a crowd of 95,342 prepared to watch what many expected to be a rout.

    Alabama only solidified those feelings early in the game, jumping out to a 21-13 halftime lead.

    But the Vols, led by quarterback Alan Cockrell, started the second half by scoring 14 points in less than two minutes early in the third quarter to go up 27-21.

    Chuck Coleman took off on a 34-yard touchdown run with 7:21 left in the game to extend Tennessee’s lead to 35-21. But Alabama wasn’t done, and the Crimson Tide scored again to pull within one score late in the fourth quarter.

    Alabama was in scoring position again with less than a minute left, looking to at least tie the game, but Tennessee’s Mike Terry intercepted a pass in the endzone with 17 seconds left to seal the win.

    Thousands of Orange-clad fans poured onto the field, ripped down the goal post, and carried it with them to Cumberland Ave.

    Following the game, Majors told reporters, “Normally, after a win, you have a few choice words to say, and after a loss, you comment on certain segments of the team. But after this game, it’s just hard to put into words what I feel.”

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