Vols vs Hoosiers: A 32-year-old Peach Bowl Matchup
By: Rachel Ward
The All Vol Call In Show
Photo: Zimbio , Nov. 9, 1990 - Source: Hulton Archive
As the Vols head into Jacksonville’s TIIA Bank Field on January 2 to face off against the Hoosiers, the game adds on to a short history between the two teams. Tennessee and Indiana have matched up only one other time in college football history—32 years ago in Atlanta for the 1987 Peach Bowl. This 2020 Gator Bowl matchup will mark exactly 32 years from when the teams played in Atlanta on January 2, 1988. The ‘88 game was also played just four years prior to The Georgia Dome, now Mercedes Benz Stadium, being named the new home of The Peach Bowl in 1992. The two teams faced off in the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
The Vols ‘87-‘88 season, led by head coach Johnny Majors, ended with 10 wins, 2 losses and one tie. One of the games that had Vol fans on their edge of the seat was the Peach Bowl as the 17th ranked Vols came from behind to defeat the Hoosiers, led by coach Bill Mallory, 27-22.
Tennessee put points on the board first in the 1987 Peach Bowl as Reggie Cob ran six yards for the touchdown seven minutes into the first quarter. Indiana responded minutes later with a 52-yard field goal from Pete Stoyanovich, cutting the lead 7-3. The next possessions would include the Vols extending their lead by 14 points as Vol quarterback Jeff Francis connected with Anthony Miller for a 45-yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter. Early in the second, Miller would showcase his versatility on the field beyond his wide receiver talents as he threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to receiver Terrence Cleveland. Just over 10 minutes into the second quarter, the Vols were up 21-3. Shortly after the Vols’ 15-yard touchdown, however, the Hoosiers started putting up unanswered points to fight for the win.
With a Cobb fumble, Indiana regained possession on their own 9-yard line and got the spark they needed to get back in the game. The Hoosiers’ first touchdown of the game was when quarterback Dave Schnell connected with receiver Ernest Jones for a 43-yard touchdown with just over six minutes to play in the 2nd quarter, cutting the lead to 21-10. This was the score as the teams went into the half and before the Hoosiers entered the third quarter ready to win with energy.
Second half of play was slow, but also resulted in the Hoosiers putting up 14 unanswered points on the board. The Indiana run game threatened the Vols’ chances of victory as running back Anthony Thompson scored on a 12-yard run at 9 minutes into the third quarter. That possession was the lone score of the third quarter, and Indiana tight end Tim Jorden was the next to score on another 12-yard run at just under 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter. This Jorden play resulted in the Hoosiers first lead of the game, but the Hoosiers failed their attempts at two-point conversions with both running drives, the score at 21-22.
In what some might describe as typical Tennessee fashion, the Vols were down one point late in the fourth quarter as Vol fans’ anxiety increased. With just under two minutes left in the game, Reggie Cobb scored a touchdown with a nine-yard run, putting the Vols up 27-22. The Vols would attempt a two-point conversion in case the Hoosiers drove down the field with just over a minute left, but the failed attempt didn’t cost them the game as Cobb’s drive was the last and winning score.
Cobb was later recognized as the Peach Bowl’s offensive MVP. Indiana’s Van Waiters was named the defensive MVP.
32 years later, the Vols and the Hoosiers are facing off once again. Will the game come down to the wire again in 2020 with fans on the edge of their seats in the fourth quarter? Time will tell for this SEC and Big Ten matchup.