29. 1914: Tennessee Beats Vanderbilt 16-14
It is the first signature season in the history of Tennessee football, and we have to go back to this game to look at what launched the football program of the Vols.
At the time, the Vanderbilt Commodores were the beast of the south, and they had complete control of their in-state rivals. Going into this season, Tennessee had failed to beat Vanderbilt in 12 tries, falling to 0-11-1 against the Commodores.
But in 1914 Tennessee fielded its best team ever at the time under Head Coach Zora Clevenger and led by captain Farmer Kelly. This team won the first championship of any kind, and the success of the season is highlighted by this game.
In order to win the Southern Conference, the Vols had to finally exercise their Vanderbilt demons, and although the Commodores were 2-5 on the year getting ready to play Tennessee, all Vols fans at the time had to know that this was going to be the toughest game of the year.
They finally broke free.
The Vols got their first great win in school history by beating the Commodores this year in one of the infant seasons of college football, and they finished the season 9-0 and 7-0 in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, finishing ahead of the Auburn Tigers.
But while this two-point victory is the first great win for the Vols in their first championship season, the next two-point victory is the first great win for the Vols to establish them as a national power.