9. 1970 in Memphis
Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers
Final score: Tennessee wins 41-7
In Bill Battle’s first year on the job, Tennessee football actually had two wins over religious schools. And both were blowouts. One was 28-3 over the SMU Mustangs to open the season. That kicked off the Battle era. However, SMU would go 5-6 that year and was not really a quality win or exciting game.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons weren’t much better, to be fair, only finishing the year 6-5. But they were declared ACC Champions in a down year, giving the Vols somewhat of a quality win. Also, it’s funny that we’re counting them as a religious school.
They severed ties with the North Carolina Baptist State Convention in 1986. So nowadays, they are no longer a religious school. But they were back in 1970. This was during a time in which the Moral Majority, spearheaded by the convention’s affiliate, the Southern Baptist Convention, was set to take over the country.
At the time of the game, UT was 5-1 and had just cracked the top 10. They were coming off a victory over the Florida Gators, led by Doug Dickey, who had bolted the Vols for his alma mater the year before. Wake, meanwhile, was 4-3 and on a four-game winning streak, so they were red-hot. The two would meet in Memphis, which was still basically a home game for the Vols.
This win was en route to a very memorable 11-1 season that ended with a Sugar Bowl win and a top five finish. So it does stand out as a very exciting win for Rocky Top over what was then a Baptist school. Ironically, the Vols were led by an openly gay linebacker, Jackie Walker, during this season as they blew out a school that was at the time affiliated with the Moral Majority.