No. 7 AP and Coaches; W Bluebonnet Bowl
If there is one season similar to this year for Tennessee football it’s 1965. The Vols were coming off a losing record that year and entering their second season with a head coach. This coach, Doug Dickey, would become a legend on Rocky Top.
However, after going 4-5-1 in 1964, UT would start the year unranked. There were questions as to whether or not his T-Formation would end up working out. But with his personnel eligible to play, it didn’t just work out. It took off.
The Vols got off to a 2-0-1 start, beating the Army Black Knights and South Carolina Gamecocks before tying the Auburn Tigers. Then they tied the eventual national champion Alabama Crimson Tide in Birmingham, though, and the momentum was clear. After beating the Houston Cougars to get to 3-0-2, the signature win to show they arrived came.
Dickey’s team beat the No. 7 ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 21-7. The next week, they were in the top 10 at No. 8. A loss to the Ole Miss Rebels, however, knocked them out and ended their shot at an SEC Championship.
But this team still finished strong. They got back into the top 10 by beating the Kentucky Wildcats, then they moved up by beating the Vanderbilt Commodores. At 6-1-2, they made sure they’d stay in the top 10 by upsetting the No. 5 ranked UCLA Bruins in Memphis to close out the regular season in a game that would see Dewey Warren arrive as a star.
A Bluebonnet Bowl win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane was icing on the cake for the season, but beating UCLA was the thriller. As a result, the Vols were able to finish No. 7 in both polls after starting unranked, and they set off an amazing 10-year run.