1996 vs. No. 7 Alabama Crimson Tide
Final score: No. 6 Tennessee Vols win 20-13
Tennessee football was looking for its second straight win over Alabama in this game. The Vols had come back from two scores down before to beat the Tide, but in this one, they were down 13-0 in the third quarter. Then they scored quickly with a Peyton Manning touchdown strike to Joey Kent, a long drive ending with a Jay Graham touchdown run and then an 80-yard run by Graham to take the lead. A late defensive stand won the game.
1997 vs. No. 11 Auburn Tigers (SEC Championship)
Final score: No. 3 Tennessee Vols win 30-29
Again, this was a two-score second half comeback. But the frustration of the game and the fact that it was for the SEC Championship made the comeback more difficult. Peyton Manning already had the label of choke artist, so being down 20-7, 20-10 at halftime and 27-17 in the third quarter for his only conference title game his senior year meant pressure. But he overcame six turnovers and a blocked extra point returned for two to win 30-29 thanks to four touchdowns from Manning, the last of which was a short completion to Marcus Nash that he took 80 yards to the house. It’s the Vols’ best win over the Auburn Tigers.
2006 at No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs
Final score: No. 14 Tennessee Vols win 51-33
Yes, the Vols once hung 50 in Athens. But they were down 24-7 in the first half and unable to stop Georgia at all. Phillip Fulmer said as much at halftime, in which they had cut the lead to 24-14. A touchdown, a field goal and another touchdown finally put them ahead 31-27 in the fourth quarter. Then the onslaught began with a blocked punt TD and two late fourth quarter scores to turn this into a blowout against the Dawgs.
2017 vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Chick-fil-A Kickoff)
Final score: No. 25 Tennessee Vols win 42-41 (2OT)
The worst season in Tennessee football history did start out with a bang. Butch Jones’s team could not stop the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets’ triple option, GT would milk the clock, and the Vols took some time to get going offensively under new quarterback Quinten Dormady. So they fell behind 21-7 and 28-14 in the fourth quarter. But a late touchdown drive, a forced fumble by Rashaan Gaulden and a 90-yard drive to tie it up sent the game to overtime. The Vols won in the second OT by stopping a two-point play. Two late scores compounded by a great forced turnover earned this a mention.
1995 at Kentucky Wildcats
Final score: No. 4 Tennessee Vols win 34-31
Before the 2007 Vanderbilt Commodores comeback, the Vols were down 31-16 to the Kentucky Wildcats in 1995. This was their first year at the next level with Peyton Manning and Phillip Fulmer. Manning was able to rally the team late for two scores so the Vols could hold on for a 34-31 victory, but it was not an easy day in Lexington. It took everything that offense had in a snowy November Saturday to overcome how well UK had played.