1985 Tennessee Volunteers Football Team - Schedule


The Vols opened the 1985 campaign hosting #10 UCLA, which was coming off a 9-3 season in 1984, and had defeated defending national champion BYU in their first game of the 1985 season. Bruins coach Terry Donahue entered the game needing one win to become UCLA's all-time winningest football coach. The Bruins' offense featured running back Gaston Green, two future NFL receivers, Willie "Flipper" Anderson and Mike Sherrard, and All-American kicker John Lee. Matt Stevens and David Norrie were vying for time at quarterback.

Following a bye week, the Vols hosted the Auburn Tigers, who entered the game ranked #1 in the nation, and had defeated the Vols in the teams' previous three meetings. The Tigers' offense was led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, who had averaged 247.5 yards per game and nearly 10 yards per carry in his first two games of the season. Auburn struggled with uncertainty at quarterback, however, with Jeff Burger, Bobby Walden, and Pat Washington all vying for the starting position.

After hosting Wake Forest, the Vols traveled to Gainesville to play the Florida Gators. Florida coach Galen Hall entered the game with an 11-0-1 record, having shut out LSU the previous week. Florida's offense featured the school's all-time leading rusher Neal Anderson and John L. Williams in the backfield, quarterback Kerwin Bell, and future NFL receiver Ricky Nattiel. Many Gator fans saw this game as an opportunity for revenge, as they blamed Tennessee for leading the movement to strip the Gators of their 1984 SEC Championship for rules violations committed under Hall's predecessor, Charley Pell.

In the fifth game of the season, the Vols visited Alabama for the "Third Saturday in October" rivalry. The Tide entered the game 4-1 following a 19-17 loss to Penn State in the previous week. The Vols had won the teams' previous three meetings, and desperately needed a win to stay in contention for the SEC Championship. The Tide was led by quarterback Mike Shula (the son of NFL coach Don Shula) and future All-American running back Bobby Humphrey on offense, and All-American linebacker Cornelius Bennett on defense.

Tennessee hosted Georgia Tech for its sixth game of the season. The Yellow Jackets entered the game 4-2 following a narrow loss to Auburn in the previous week. The Vols had edged Georgia Tech 24-21 the previous year, but were playing without star quarterback Tony Robinson, who had suffered a season-ending knee injury against Alabama. The Yellow Jackets' offense was led by All-ACC quarterback John Dewberry and receiver Gary Lee, though leading rushers Cory Collier and Jerry Mays were out with injuries. Linebacker Ted Roof and lineman Pat Swilling led the Jackets' elite "Black Watch" unit on defense.

After playing Rutgers in Knoxville and visiting Memphis State, the Vols began their final conference stretch by hosting Ole Miss. A tie between Alabama and LSU the previous week had left Tennessee and Florida tied for first place in the conference, and with Florida ineligible, the Vols needed only to win their final three games to win the SEC Championship. The Rebels were led by freshman quarterback Chris Osgood (starting in place of the injured Kent Austin), running back Nathan Wonsley, and receiver J.R. Ambrose.

In the next-to-last game of the regular season, the Vols traveled to Lexington to play Kentucky in the annual Battle for the Barrel. Kentucky entered the game 5-5 under 4th-year head coach Jerry Claiborne, and had won the teams' previous meeting in Knoxville, 17-12. In the final game of the regular season, the Vols played host to Vanderbilt, which entered the game 3-6-1.

As SEC Champions, Tennessee received an automatic berth in the 1986 Sugar Bowl, played on New Year's Day. Their opponent, Miami, entered the game with a 10-game winning streak, which was capped by a 58-7 blowout of Notre Dame. Ranked #2 in the nation, Miami needed a win over Tennessee and a loss by Penn State in the Orange Bowl to lay claim to the national title. Under second-year coach Jimmy Johnson, the Hurricanes featured numerous future NFL players, including quarterback Vinny Testaverde, running backs Alonzo Highsmith, Warren Williams, and Mel Bratton, receivers Michael Irvin and Brian Blades, All-American tight end Willie Smith, and a defense led by linemen Jerome Brown and Kevin Fagan, linebacker Winston Moss, and defensive back Bennie Blades.

Date Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
September 14 #10 UCLA* Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN ABC T 26–26 94,370
September 28 #1 Auburn Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN ABC W 38–20 94,358
October 5 Wake Forest* #16 Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN W 31–29 93,345
October 12 at #7 Florida #14 Florida Field • Gainesville, FL (Rivalry) L 10–17 74,432
October 19 at #15 Alabama #20 Legion Field • Birmingham, AL (Third Saturday in October) TBS W 16–14 75,808
October 26 Georgia Tech* #16 Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN ESPN T 6–6 94,575
November 2 Rutgers* #19 Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN W 40–0 92,188
November 9 at Memphis State* #19 Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium • Memphis, TN W 17–7 49,617
November 16 Ole Miss #18 Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN TBS W 34–14 92,482
November 23 at Kentucky #16 Commonwealth Stadium • Lexington, KY (Battle for the Barrel) TBS W 42–0 57,160
November 30 Vanderbilt #10 Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN TBS W 30–0 97,372
January 1, 1986 vs. #2 Miami* #8 Louisiana Superdome • New Orleans, LA (Sugar Bowl) ABC W 35–7 77,432
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