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How Tennessee Has Fared in Previous Citrus Bowl Appearances

Tennessee Football Vol Walk
Tennessee Football Vol Walk. Photo by RTI.

Tennessee football will head to Orlando to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl on January 1.

While this will be the Vols’ first appearance in the Citrus Bowl under head coach Josh Heupel, it won’t be Tennessee’s first rodeo in the game, as Tennessee has appeared in the Citrus Bowl five times in its history.

Let’s take a look at how the Vols have fared in all five of their recent Citrus Bowl appearances.

December 17, 1983

Tennessee 30, No. 16 Maryland 23

The Vols’ first ever Citrus Bowl appearance came in 1983, when Tennessee knocked off then-ACC opponent Maryland.

Tennessee and Maryland each entered the game 8-3, with the Vols having finished tied for third in the SEC and the Terrapins having won the ACC for the first time since 1976. It was Tennessee’s third straight bowl season and Maryland’s fourth.

The Vols won the game on the back of running back Johnnie Jones, who was an important player for Tennessee in this timeframe as he rushed for 1,000+ yards in 1983 and 1984, the only Vol back to ever have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

Jones recorded 29 rushing attempts for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the win and won Citrus Bowl MVP, while starting quarterback Alan Cockrell completed 16 of 23 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. Clyde Duncan was Tennessee’s leading receiver with six catches for 59 yards.

There were some notable names along the opposite sideline in this one, as Maryland’s starting quarterback was Hall of Famer Boomer Esiason. However, Esiason got injured and did not return after just six plays. Frank Reich was Esiason’s replacement, but Reich struggled and committed two costly turnovers in the loss.

Maryland only scored one touchdown, as their kicker racked up five field goals on the day.

FUN FACT: 1983 was the first year the game went by the moniker Florida Citrus Bowl, as it went by the Tangerine Bowl in the previous 37 seasons.

January 1, 1994

No. 13 Penn State 31, No. 6 Tennessee 13

Tennessee’s second Citrus Bowl appearance did not go as well as their first, as the Vols lost handedly to the Nittany Lions. Furthermore, Tennessee’s 1994 Citrus Bowl loss is their only loss in the bowl game.

The ’94 Citrus Bowl was the first under head coach Phillip Fulmer, as the 1993 season was the Fulmer’s first full season in which the Vols went 9-1-1.

Tennessee jumped out to a 10-0 lead but could not keep for long it against Joe Paterno’s 9-2 squad. Quarterback Kerry Collins, running back Ki-Jana Carter and company went on to take a 17-13 lead into halftime before outscoring Tennessee 14-0 in the second half.

Starting quarterback Heath Shuler and running back Charlie Garner were leading the way for the Vols, with Shuler completing 22 of 42 passes for 205 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and Garner rushed 16 times for 91 yards and two scores.

Bobby Engram won Citrus Bowl MVP for his seven-catch, 107-yard, one touchdown performance.

More From RTI: WATCH: Tennessee Football Releases Signing Day Hype Video
January 1, 1996

No. 3 Tennessee 20, No. 4 Ohio State 14

Tennessee’s third Citrus Bowl came just two years after their second, and it went better this time around. Tennessee, who went 10-1 and was ranked third in the nation, beat the 11-1 Ohio State Buckeyes by six.

The Buckeyes may have had Heisman-winning running back Eddie George, but Tennessee had Peyton Manning and running back Jay Graham, who gained 168 yards and scored a touchdown on 26 carries. Graham’s performance earned him Citrus Bowl MVP honors.

Manning completed 20 of 35 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown, while Joey Kent led the receiving corps with seven catches for 109 yards and a score.

Tennessee’s lone loss in the 1995 season came to the Florida Gators, who beat the Vols 62-37 in Gainesville.

January 1, 1997

No. 9 Tennessee 48, No. 11 Northwestern 28

Like his second season, Peyton Manning’s third season at Tennessee concluded with a Citrus Bowl appearance, in which the Vols beat Northwestern in a high-scoring affair, 48-28.

In Tennessee’s third Citrus Bowl appearance in four seasons, the Vols took an early 21-0 lead in the first quarter but saw the Wildcats quickly tie it up in the second. But Manning’s third touchdown pass of the day put the Vols back in the lead, and they never relinquished it, besting a 9-2 Northwestern team by 20 points.

Manning won Citrus Bowl MVP for his incredible performance in which he completed 27 of 39 passes for 408 yards and four touchdowns along with a rushing touchdown in the victory. Peerless Price and Joey Kent each eclipsed the century mark and combined for three touchdowns.

Jay Graham led Tennessee in rushing with 81 yards, and the Tennessee defense intercepted Northwestern quarterback Steve Schnur three times.

January 1, 2002

No. 8 Tennessee 45, No. 17 Michigan 17

The most recent appearance for Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl came nearly 22 years ago, when Tennessee blasted Michigan 45-17.

Casey Clausen was manning the ship for the Vols at quarterback and threw three touchdowns along with a pair of rushing scores in the winê

Tennessee went 10-2 during the 2001 season and was an SEC Championship game victory against LSU away from being able to play in the Rose Bowl and compete for a National Championship. Michigan, on the other hand, finished their 2001 campaign with an 8-3 record.

Clausen won game MVP for his sensational performance, and thus was the last Florida Citrus Bowl MVP, as the Citrus Bowl was renamed the Capital One Citrus Bowl for the next 13 years.

While Travis Stephens didn’t have a big day on the ground, Clausen’s incredible performance left no doubt, and Donte Stallworth had a big day with over 100 yards receiving and 44 yards rushing.

Tennessee will look to improve their Citrus Bowl record to 6-1 when they face off against Iowa in 12 days.

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