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38 Days until Tennessee Football: Neyland’s ‘38 Squad Started It All

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A look at the 1938 title team.

Hank Lauricella with Coach Neyland
Southern Conference Sports

There are only 38 days standing between us and another season of Tennessee football. The Vols will kick off the 2017 campaign at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta versus former SEC foe Georgia Tech. In honor of it being 38 days until “It’s football time in Tennessee,” I’d like to take a look at perhaps the best team in Tennessee’s long, illustrious gridiron history: the 1938 Volunteers.

They are regarded by many as one of the greatest teams in college football history. General Neyland’s 1938 Tennessee squad dominated the SEC on their way to a National Championship, the first of four under Neyland, and six in program history.

Just how dominating were these ‘38 Neyland boys? Tennessee’s defense held opponents to a total of 16 points for the entire season. Opponents were completely shutout in 8 of 11 games, with 5 consecutive shutouts to finish the season. It would be 17 games and 71 quarters later before a team would score on Tennessee, an NCAA record that still stands today, and may never be broken.

Tennessee, at 10-0 and ranked 2nd in the country, faced off against 4th ranked and undefeated Oklahoma in the 1939 Orange Bowl in Miami. Oklahoma had a similarly impressive resume, pitching 8 shutouts in 10 games during the regular season. However, it was the Vols who would continue their dominating play, their staple all season, topping the Sooners 17-0. Tennessee went on to receive 24 first place votes, claiming their first national title in school history.