Tennessee Volunteers at No. 18 Boston College Eagles
Final score: Tennessee wins 14-7
Staying in the John Barnhill era, Tennessee football won a revenge game here four years earlier. After three straight SEC titles and undefeated regular seasons from 1938 to 1940, two of which they were declared national champions, the Vols lost 19-13 to the Boston College Eagles on New Year’s Day in 1941 in their first Sugar Bowl appearance.
Then Robert Neyland left for the second time due to his duties as a general. He was called to action for World War II. After going 4-5 the one season between his first and second stints in 1935, nobody knew what to make of John Barnhill, his replacement this time. And things started off rough.
The Vols lost to the Duke Blue Devils and Alabama Crimson Tide to start off 2-2. Then they got to 5-2 with wins over the Cincinnati Bearcats, LSU Tigers and Samford (then Howard) Bulldogs. With that record, they traveled up North to face that BC team that beat them a year ago on the road.
At 5-2 as well and ranked No. 18, the Eagles were clearly the favorites. But the Vols pulled off the upset, winning 14-7. That was a huge statement win to prove that Barnhill could shoulder the burden of leading this program in Neyland’s absence, and UT then beat the Kentucky Wildcats and No. 12 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores to finish 8-2 and No. 18.
Beating Boston College proved the program was more than just Neyland, and in the wartime era, it gave them the confidence they needed to stay afloat. So yes, the win was huge. It was a quality win. And it brought sweet revenge.