7. Nov. 9, 1985
Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 15 LSU Tigers
Final score: Tie game 14-14
Tennessee football’s magical 1985 season could have been derailed by this game. The Vols had made it through the gauntlet of their SEC schedule, dominating the Auburn Tigers and holding off the Alabama Crimson Tide but suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Florida Gators in between those.
LSU had lost to Florida earlier in the year. However, once again, the Gators were on probation and could not win the SEC. So they didn’t matter. At this point in the year, the Vols were 2-1 while the Tigers were 3-1 in the league. After Alabama, LSU’s final SEC game would be the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who were last in the league.
Meanwhile, the Vols had three more SEC games left against the Ole Miss Rebels, Kentucky Wildcats and Vanderbilt Commodores, but none of those teams had a winning record, so UT was almost certainly going to win all three even with backup quarterback Daryl Dickey filling in for Tony Robinson.
As a result, the Vols’ only chance to win the SEC outright was to root for Alabama in this game. It was similar to the Iron Bowl game in 1990. And everybody on Rocky Top knows that rooting for Alabama is an excruciating thing to do.
So, in a twist of fate, the Vols had everything work out. Alabama tied the Tigers that day 14-14. Nothing could have been better for UT fans. The Tide didn’t win, but LSU fell out of its tie with the Vols for first place. UT would go on to win the SEC outright and score its stunning Sugar Bowl upset over the Miami Hurricanes. But this game was a twist of great luck.