6. 1998: Jeff Hall, 27-yard field goal
Tennessee beats Syracuse 34-33
Jeff Hall had a key field goal his second game in 1995 as a true freshman to usher in Tennessee football’s most dominant period. His senior year, he had a key field goal in the Vols’ opener to usher in their national championship run.
We all know the story. The Vols were breaking in Peyton Manning’s replacement, Tee Martin, and had to open the year on the road against eventual Big East champion Syracuse and veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb. Then they got locked in a shootout, which is what they did not want with Martin, who was still inconsistent with his accuracy at the time.
However, Martin was able to rely on Jamal Lewis and Peerless Price along with his mobility to still make big plays. And an opportunistic was enough to keep UT in control until the fourth quarter, when Syracuse scored 20 points and took a 33-31 lead.
Tennessee football followed that up, however, with a great drive helped by a pass interference penalty that was the right call. With time running out, they got to the 10-yard line on the left side. Phillip Fulmer’s trust in Hall was so deep that he willingly let the clock run down before using a timeout, putting the game in his hands.
Hall came out and drilled the 27-yard field goal to give Tennessee a 34-33 win. It wasn’t the toughest kick in terms of yardage. But it was a kick to win the game on the road against a ranked team. That was enough to put it up here on the list. And the best part was that UT didn’t even celebrate that hard. They had just acted like they’d been there. It was the mark of an eventual champion.