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Time Capsule: Top 5 games under coach Phillip Fulmer

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From one year ago today:

Monday night's come-from-behind victory against the LSU Tigers has spawned a lot of discussion on Knoxville talk radio about the best Tennessee Volunteer football games in the Phillip Fulmer area.  Here are my top 5:

  2. Tennessee v. Florida State, 1998 National Championship.  Capping off a perfect season, the Volunteers frustrated Peter Warrick into a sideline tantrum and beat the Seminoles under an orange moon in Tempe, Arizona.

  4. Tennessee v. Florida, 1998.  The Vols and Coach Fulmer ended a losing streak against nemesis Steve Spurrier when the Gators missed a field goal in overtime.  All Vol fans will remember the call by John Ward, the Voice of the Vols: "No . . . sir . . . eee, pandemonium reigns," as the crowd rushed the field and ripped down the goal post.  The win was the catalyst for the perfect season and the national championship.

  6. Tennessee at Florida, 2001.  A 17-point underdog, Tennessee's Travis Stephens -- the guy who was too small to carry the load for the Vols for an entire season -- pounded the Gators on the ground, running around, over, and through the Florida defense for over 200 yards.  Essentially a playoff game with everything on the line, the win catapulted the Vols into the SEC Championship game.  If they had won in Atlanta the next week, they would have gone on to the Rose Bowl and a national championship game.  Losing instead to LSU took a little luster off the big Florida win.

  8. Tennessee v. Arkansas, 1998.  With a perfect season coming to a close in the final minutes against the Hogs, Arkansas just needed to run out the clock.  But the defensive line blew an offensive lineman up immediately after the snap, pushing him backwards and causing the quarterback to trip as he was pulling out from under center.  The quarterback put his ball-hand on the ground to steady himself -- and fumbled, untouched.  Tennessee's Billy Ratliff recovered, and the Vols, behind running back Travis Henry, marched some 40 yards into the end zone to keep their perfect season and national championship hopes alive.

  10. Tennessee at LSU, 2005.  Rick Clausen -- The Rudy of the New Millennium, Nobody's All-American -- told by former LSU coach Nick Saban that he was not good enough to play in the SEC and told by UT coach Phillip Fulmer that he was not good enough to start for the Vols, came off the bench after starting quarterback Erik Ainge's train wreck of a half to lead one of the greatest comebacks in Tennessee football history.  Down 21-0 at halftime and 24-7 going into the 4th quarter, Clausen and the Vols beat all odds, finally finding an offensive rhythm after two and a half games and kicking a team while it was down in full view of its rabid fans and a sympathetic nation.

  11. Any I've missed?  Comments?

    Go Vols!