Tom Mattingly: UT, Ole Miss has strong history

The Tennessee-Ole Miss football series, first played in 1902 (Nov. 15 in Memphis - Tennessee 11, Ole Miss 10), has had quite a history in the 63 games played thus far. Tennessee leads the series with 43 wins, against 19 losses and one tie.

The series has been played in Knoxville, at two venues in Memphis (Crump Stadium and Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium), in Jackson (the one in Mississippi), and on campus in Oxford.

Four games stand out historically in the series. In 1958, Tennessee was 2-5 coming into the Homecoming clash on Nov. 15 with the No. 7 Rebels, who were 7-1, 14-point favorites, and headed toward the Cotton Bowl.

Ole Miss was ahead 16-6 at the half, and all seemed well for the Rebels, but things turned around after intermission for the Vols.

Neyle Sollee scored a third-quarter touchdown, and, in the fourth period, Gene Etter made one of the great runs in Tennessee history, scooting 75 yards for a touchdown to give the Vols the lead. He looked to be stopped around the 50, lost his shoe, and kept running, all the way to the north end zone.

Ole Miss had one rally left, and marched down the field for a game-winning field-goal try. Bob Khayat, who had kicked one earlier, misfired from 20 yards out, and the Vols had the victory. Ole Miss ended up in the Gator Bowl with an 8-2 record, defeating Florida, 7-3.

Bowden Wyatt was flabbergasted by Etter's effort.

"Bless his heart," Wyatt said. "That's all I can say-Bless his heart."

The Vols would not defeat the Rebels again until 1967, losing eight in a row. That burden weighed heavy on the Vols as they headed to Memphis in Doug Dickey's fourth year.

The Vols broke the streak decisively with a 20-7 win. The Vols' front line of Bob Johnson, John Boynton, Joe Graham, Charles Rosenfelder, and Elliott Gammage dominated up front, while Vol defenders forced two fumbles and intercepted four passes.

Walter Chadwick scored a touchdown and tossed a TD pass, left-handed, to tight end Terry Dalton. It was Walter's second TD toss of the season, the first coming to tight end Ken DeLong in the Alabama game.

The Vols returned home with an Orange Bowl bid in Bob Woodruff's coat pocket and a tumultuous welcome, complete with bonfire, near the site of today's HPER Building.

The No. 11 Vols scored a 31-0 victory the next year at Neyland Stadium, intercepting seven passes off a sophomore quarterback named Archie Manning. Richard Pickens, who led the SEC in rushing, had 122 yards on 16 carries.

Bubba Wyche threw TD passes to Gary Kreis, Bill Baker, and Lester McClain, and Bobby Scott threw another TD pass to McClain from 3 yards out. All-America linebacker Steve Kiner, playing with a broken wrist, had 12 tackles and recovered two fumbles and was named AP lineman of the week.

In 1969, Tennessee headed to Jackson with a 7-0 record and No. 3 national ranking for a game against the No. 18 Rebels. The contest ended up Ole Miss 38, Tennessee 0, in one of the longest days any Tennessee team or group of fans have ever spent in any stadium.

Tennessee trailed 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, and it didn't get any better after that. Ole Miss, playing at an emotional high, simply dominated the game. It was the Vols' worst defeat since a 51-7 loss to Vanderbilt in 1923.

"We want Tennessee - more than anyone else wants 'em," Manning had said before the game. "They can be had. They weren't 31 points better than us last year, or this year."

The Vols ended up winning the SEC title that year, but ended up in the Gator Bowl, losing to Florida 14-13. Ole Miss went to the Sugar Bowl, defeating Arkansas, 27-22.

"The humiliating defeat shocked some fans, angered some, and disappointed them all," wrote Russ Bebb, then at the Knoxville Journal. "As the victories had piled up, too many of them had been caught up in the notion that these Vols were simply unbeatable."

Tennessee fans, and the program itself, recovered very nicely, with seasons of 11-1, 10-2, and 10-2 to begin the decade of the 1970s.

In earlier years, there was always something special about Ole Miss showing up in Knoxville, Memphis, or Jackson in the blue jerseys and gray pants, contrasted against Tennessee's orange and white.

There was something special about the atmosphere surrounding the game, with the west side press box shadows covering the field in the early part of the November afternoon.

Tennessee and Ole Miss don't play as regularly as they used to, but the memories are still good ones, whenever the Vols and Rebels square off.

There's just one request. Could Ole Miss show up in the light gray uniforms they wore against Auburn?

That would be a nice touch.

Tom Mattingly is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 5

HtownVol writes:

My one request.

Can UT NEVER wear the ugly bright orange pants again? Please.

I hope the Vols are not taking Mamphis as lightly as KNS. One game at a time. Lets go out and show that UT is still going to own the state of Tennessee. UTM, Memphis and Vandy can and should be Wins.

Hey VandyGrad. Your boys sure looked like they are still the little sister of the SEC. At least UT has been in all but 1 game going into the 3rd quarter. UF pounded Vandy in Nashville and it was never a game.

Can we get a excuse from the "VandyGrad" as to why Vandy looked like they are on the rise? Oh Yeah, didnt they lose their best WR for the year today?

Sorry, I know he/she wont be around today since the Doormats got thumped.

Come on Bray. Lets hope Bray, Hunter and Poole all have career games tonight!


Barneyvol writes:

Let's beat them Ole Miss Bears?

rockytopatl writes:

Another grammatically-challenged headline. Try "UT, Ole Miss HAVE strong history."

dwa7#337691 writes:

1st order of business...

UT 34
Tigers 13

born2ride writes:

in response to Barneyvol:

Let's beat them Ole Miss Bears?

It's the Black Bears! That's even dumber.

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