2. 1970: Tennessee beats Georgia Tech 17-6
Head Coach: Bill Battle
Yes, we have two games from the same season. But Tennessee football’s 1970 season was so legendary for a first-year head coach that there was nothing we could do. And before the Vols made it to the Sugar Bowl, they had a huge regular season win to get them there.
This was the game that set the Vols off on a great season in 1970. They started the year unranked, but after getting to 2-1 with wins over the SMU Mustangs and Army Black Knights and a loss to the Auburn Tigers, they were ranked No. 20.
And at 2-1, they had to travel to Atlanta to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. GT was 4-0 after a huge season-opening win over the No. 17 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, and they were now ranked No. 13 in the nation under Bud Carson. After three rebuilding years, the excitement was real in Atlanta.
The Vols, meanwhile, were just looking to prove they still had it. And in this game, they would show to be a team that the defense was going to carry on the year. It became another beautiful upset for the program.
Tennessee’s defense forced four turnovers on the game. They were all interceptions against Georgia Tech quarterback Eddie McAshan. Meanwhile, Bobby Scott threw two touchdown passes for the Vols.
As a result, Tennessee won the game 17-6. The next week, they moved into the Top 15 and dominated the Alabama Crimson Tide. And they wouldn’t lose the rest of the way en route to their 11-1 record and Sugar Bowl win. But this was the signature win for Bill Battle his first year and the one that got the Vols to the Sugar Bowl.
This made Battle like his predecessor. As we already mentioned, Doug Dickey’s first signature win was over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets too. But Dickey left Tennessee football in much better shape than Battle did. That’s a different story.