6. 1987: Boston College beats Tennessee 20-18
Johnny Majors in his prime with Rocky Top was always good for one inexplicable loss a year, even when he had top-notch talent. This was one of the years he had that top-notch talent, and the Boston College Eagles on the road were one of the most inexplicable losses. It would’ve been worse if it were at home.
After an underachieving 1986 season in which they failed to reach expectations set from 1985, Tennessee football entered 1987 with revived expectations to rebound again. They did just that in the opener, defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes.
When mid-October came, they were 4-0-1. But like what would happen too many times during this stretch, they lost a road game to an Alabama Crimson Tide team significantly worse than them.
Still, they rebounded to beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and were 5-1-1 getting set to travel to Massachusetts to face a heavy underdog in the Boston College Eagles. Ranked No. 13 in the nation, the Vols would have no business losing to a 4-4 team that had just lost to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the West Virginia Mountaineers right? Wrong!
In embarrassing fashion, the Vols lost. Sure, Jeff Francis was injured, but it was still inexcusable. Boston College used a power rushing attack to out-gain the Vols 202 to 75 in total yards in just the first half, and they built a 20-3 lead in the third quarter with their final touchdown coming off a Vols’ turnover.
Tennessee fought back to make it 20-18 in the second half with two touchdowns, but it was too late. They choked away a game to a very mediocre team. Although Tennessee football won out to finish 10-2-1 and in the Top 15, this was still an embarrassing game. The Vols were significantly better, which is why the upset is so high on the list.