The last time Tennessee was ranked No. 1: Remembering Volunteers’ 1998 season at the peak of college football

Tennessee is No. 1 again.

The Volunteers are No. 1 in the first set of college football playoff rankings. Tennessee is also ranked No. 2 in the AP poll and No. 3 in the coaches’ poll, but a win over No. 3 Georgia on Saturday would end the debate for another week.

At this point, Tennessee would be No. 1 for the first time since the inaugural Bowl Championship Series season in 1998.

The last time the Volunteers took first place in the regular season produced one of the most memorable games in program history the following week – and it marked the Volunteers’ national championship run.

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Sporting News takes a look back at the last time the Vols were No. 1 in the polls during the regular season.

When was Tennessee’s last No. 1 ranking?

Rewind to November 9, 1998. The Vengaboys released their single “We Like to Party”. “Metal Gear Solid” was the trending video game. Two days after Michigan State knocked out No. 1 Ohio State, the Volunteers were voted No. 1 in the AP poll.

Who was on that Tennessee team?

Phillip Fulmer had guided the Volunteers to an 8-0 record by then with a roster that included quarterback Tee Martin, who had the unenviable task of replacing Peyton Manning at quarterback. Offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe was the best assistant coach.

Travis Henry was the lead rusher and Peerless Price was the star receiver. Chad Clifton and Cosey Coleman anchored the offensive line, and Al Wilson, Raynoch Thompson and Darwin Walker. Tennessee even had a star kicker in Jeff Hall, who threw the game-winning field goal in overtime against Florida.

What was Tennessee’s iconic victory in 1998?

The Tennessee-Florida rivalry was the SEC’s gold standard in the 1990s. The Gators won four straight SEC championships from 1993 to 1996, and Steve Spurrier had led the Gators to five straight wins against the 1993 Vols. to 1997.

Tennessee had won the SEC championship in 1997, but the Gators beat the Vols 33-20 that season, which prevented Manning from qualifying for a national championship. This set the stage for the September 19, 1998 game between No. 2 Florida and No. 6 Tennessee.

Tennessee forced five turnovers and finally broke through in a 20-17 overtime thriller, which was clinched when Cooper Collins missed a 32-yard field goal that would have forced a second overtime. Fans stormed the Neyland Stadium.

It is considered one of the greatest victories in school history.

“Without this game, we won’t win the national championship,” Tennessee goaltender Fred White told the Knoxville New Sentinel.

Doesn’t that sound like what happened after Tennessee’s 52-49 win over No. 3 Alabama this season?

What happened after Tennessee was voted #1?

The Vols’ run at No. 1 has almost come to an end after just one week. No. 10 Arkansas led Tennessee 24-22 with 1:47 left in the fourth quarter and the Vols were down to just one timeout.

On the second and 12, Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner stumbled after taking the snap, then fumbled. Billy Ratliff recovered and Henry’s 1-yard run with 28 seconds to go sealed an unlikely victory that was part of that enchanting season.

Who did Tennessee beat in the BCS Championship game?

Tennessee closed out the season with a 23–16 win over No. 2 Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl, which served as the Bowl Championship Series opener. The Seminoles were without starting quarterback Chris Weinke, and backup quarterback Marcus Outzen struggled against the Volunteers defense.

The signature play was Martin’s 79-yard pass to Price in the third quarter that put the Volunteers ahead 20-9. This marked the beginning of SEC dominance in the BCS era. SEC schools won nine of 16 BCS championship games from 1998 to 2013.

What did Alabama and Georgia look like in 1998?

No. 4 Tennessee beat No. 7 Georgia 22-3 in another top-10 showdown at Sanford Stadium on October 10, 1998. It was part of a three-game losing streak for the coach. third-year Jim Donnan, which lasted two more seasons. before the start of the Mark Richt era in Athens.

No. 3 Tennessee defeated Alabama 35-18 at Neyland Stadium on October 24, 1998. The Crimson Tide finished 7-5 in Mike DuBose’s second season. It was part of the Volunteers’ seven-game winning streak against Alabama from 1995-2001.

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Will Tennessee party like it’s 1998?

Tennessee has the best offense in the nation in 2022, and quarterback Hendon Hooker is a top contender for the Heisman Trophy. Volunteers can take the top spot in the AP poll with a win over the Bulldogs.

The 1998 team finished with six wins against ranked teams. A win on Saturday would give this year’s team the same grade ahead of potential matchups in the SEC Championship Game and the College Football Playoffs.

It’s the Vols’ best chance since 1998.

Will they take advantage of it?