This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly series written by RTI columnist Lexie Little
Following the Vols’ 35-12 win against Missouri, Tennessee moved up to the No. 14 spot in the AP Top 25. Riding an 8-game win streak, the Vols face a true test on the road in Athens, Georgia, against the No. 3 Bulldogs. Georgia transfer Cade Mays started for the Vols on the offensive line against Mizzou following a prolonged eligibility battle. Now, he and brother Cooper Mays will face the forceful Dawg defensive line alongside the rest of the Vol starters.
This isn’t the first time Tennessee has traveled to Sanford Stadium on Oct. 10. On that date in 1998, the eventual national champions dominated the Dawgs between the hedges, winning 22-3. This week in UT sports history, Rocky Top Insider takes a look back at that game and more.
Oct. 10, 1998
Both teams ranked in the Top 10. A sellout crowd of 86,117 packed Sanford Stadium for a classic matchup in the Classic City. ESPN broadcast “College GameDay” from Athens for the first time. No. 4 Tennessee and No. 7 Georgia entered the contest with 4-0 records. But only one team would leave undefeated.
The Dawgs looked to defend their home turf for SEC East bragging rights and a return to national prominence. However, Tennessee’s first-team defense, led by linebacker Al Wilson, owned the line of scrimmage to keep the Bulldogs scoreless in three quarters. The Vols sacked quarterback Quincy Carter six times, though New York Times reporter Timothy Smith noted Carter had to “pick himself up after almost pass play.” Yet, the offensive line might have been the true victors.
The score stood knotted at three all after the first quarter. Tennessee put six more points on the board in the second, but at 9-3, the game remained too close to count out the Dawgs. The Georgia defense limited the run game, holding the Vols to 61 yards in the first half. Then, Tennessee’s offensive line emerged from halftime with newfound aggression. Pushing back the defense, the O-line created holes for 149 yards on the ground in the second half.
“They had the opportunity there at the start of the second half,” Georgia head coach Jim Donnan said. “They took the ball game over.”
The ground game had remained a question mark for the orange and white in the days leading up to the contest. Starter Jamal Lewis, who had averaged 124 yards-per-game, underwent knee surgery the previous Tuesday. On the second play of the Vols’ first drive, that question mark turned into an exclamation point. Travis Stephens broke free for a 12-yard gain. He ran for 107 yards that day, more than half of the Vols’ 210 total rushing yards.
While Georgia’s national championship hopes slipped away, the Vols moved to 5-0 on the way to 13-0 and the title. The Bulldogs, including current head coach Kirby Smart, finished the season 9-3 with a 35-33 win against Virginia in the Peach Bowl.
No. 3 Georgia and No. 14 Tennessee square off again this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on CBS.
Oct. 11, 1899
Nearly 100 years before the Vols and Dawgs fought for national attention, in-state matchups proved good enough to excite crowds. Tennessee’s 1899 team, the first to have a head coach, hosted King to open the season. The Vols played in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association along with eventual SEC teams Vanderbilt, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Georgia, Kentucky and LSU. King, a non-conference opponent, fell to Tennessee, 11-5.
Head coach Joseph Audley (J.A.) Pierce led the Vols to a 6-2 record in his first year, five of which were shutouts. Tennessee defeated Georgia on Nov. 11 that year, 5-0, in Knoxville. (The two teams were set to meet in November again this year before COVID-19 forced season changes). The Volunteers only played two games on the road, a 51-0 loss to early powerhouse Sewanee and a 6-0 win against Chattanooga.
Pierce only coached at Tennessee for two seasons. He and the Vols opened the 1900 season on Oct. 10, again against King. That game resulted in a 22-0 Tennessee victory, the first in a 3-2-1 season including four home contests. The Volunteers played at Wait Field, where the Walters Life Science building now stands, from 1892 until 1920.
Oct. 7, 2011
Tennessee’s football program isn’t the only force on grass fields. The Lady Vols soccer team, ranked 20th in 2011, found ways to win against scrappy opponents. When Ole Miss went up 3-0, Tennessee roared back to win, 4-3, in overtime.
The Lady Vols did not get on the board until 58:27 when Amy Harrison scored off an assist from Emily Shore, quickly followed by a goal from Emily Dowd at 60:24. They tied the game around the 80-minute mark, forcing overtime. Ten minutes later, the Lady Vols scored the winning goal. Tennessee outshot Ole Miss 30-8 in a whirlwind offensive effort (14-3 shots on goal).
With the win, the Lady Vols improved to 10-3 (3-2 SEC). Tennessee had won 10 games total a season prior, finishing 10-9-1 (7-3-1 SEC). In 2011, the Lady Vols earned 15-7 overall, though they finished with a similar 7-4 record in conference play.
Tennessee currently stands at 1-2 in the 2020 conference-only season. The Lady Vols upset No. 10 Vanderbilt, 1-0, after a loss to Alabama on the road. However, the No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs proved too much to handle in Athens. Tennessee dropped its third contest, 1-0, last Friday. Mizzou comes to Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville this Friday. The matchup is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network.