You'll want to include '02 Miami in the mix, but the opponents featured today are two of the best teams Tennessee has ever faced. That's how the Gators were 18 point favorites in The Swamp, and how Ohio State was once again one loss to Michigan away from playing for the National Championship. And Tennessee beat both of them, thanks in large part to both of these plays.
Travis Stephens 01 Florida
Yesterday featured the best game I've ever seen in person, but this is the best game I've ever seen period, college, high school, NFL, you name it. I've written something close to 10,000 words about this game during my four years at this site, so I'll try to stick to this individual play. The Vols were up 27-26, having just been robbed of what should've been a fumble by Rex Grossman that instead led to a Gator field goal. No one watching this game live drew a deep breath at any point from the kickoff to the final gun. Florida had thirty years of winning in Gainesville on their side, and just a year removed from Jabar Gaffney's catch/no-catch, we were well acquainted with heartbreak against these guys. So with so very much on the line, for Travis Stephens to do this on the first play of the drive? This run, aside from how awesome it is and how hard Stephens ran as soon as Clausen handed him the football...this run is the moment this night went from "we could win" to "we should win". It's an "Ooohhhh.....OOOOOHHHH!" play, the best of Stephens' 226 yards, every one of them paving the way to one of the greatest wins in Tennessee history.
Jay Graham 95 Ohio State
This, for my money, is the best team we've ever played against. The driving rainstorm took some of the sizzle away, but Tennessee's defense also did their part (and though it's not in our bracket, I implore you, watch this if you don't know who Bill Duff is). While Ohio State's Heisman Trophy winner was coming up short, Jay Graham changed the entire course of this game and broke 100 yards in the first half along the way. Note the time: 34 seconds left in the half, Vols down 7-0 in the rain - I sit under the overhang in Neyland Stadium, so I can't speak to the best/worst rainstorms in Knoxville, but I sat on the top row of the upper deck for this one...and this rain lacked mercy. So Manning and the Vols have been shut out all half, and it's time to take it to the locker room and regroup, right? Nope - Graham puts us on the board in breathtaking fashion. How in the world did he stay upright on this run? The Vols stole momentum before halftime and went on to win 20-14.