The 2023-2024 college football bowl season is upon us and depending on who you root for (if anyone), you may find yourself planted in front of the television quite a bit over the course of the next week or so. My bowl season started off well, with my doctoral alma mater Texas Tech beating UC Berkeley in the Independence Bowl. Tech started the season with much promise but finished with a break even record of 6-6 going into the game. Cal, also at 6-6, proved no match and Tech ran away with the game finishing 34 to 14. It was one of three other bowl games I have watched this year including the Birmingham Bowl, the Armed Forces Bowl, and the Las Vegas Bowl. Six days from now on New Year's Day, my other alma mater, the University of Tennessee, will match off against the University of Iowa in the Citrus Bowl. I might just watch the game (it will be the first Tennessee game I watch this season if so) although I fear the Vols may not be able to pull out the victory. The combination of bowl games had me recollecting about a game on Saturday, October 2, 1993, between Tennessee and Duke. You see Duke was the underdog (by most accounts) in this year’s Birmingham Bowl, but none the less came on top of Troy 17 to 10. In the 1993 game, Tennessee totally dominated Duke, dismantling the Blue Devils 52 to 19. They did not know it that sunny day in Knoxville, but the Tennessee squad was on its way to the Citrus Bowl at the end of that season as well.
You could not have asked for a better day for football. It was sunny and although the temperature would get up to about 78° the air was crisp, and it did not feel hot at all. As the game progressed, clouds rolled in and it cooled off, but the Vols stayed hot the entire time. The game was never in question. Heath Shuler commanded the Vols in a domineering fashion. It was homecoming and we all went away with a sound victory and positive outlook for the season.
The first photo below is a shot of the Duke Blue Devils entering the field at the start of the game. The photo is a look toward the Hodges Library early in the game. The third is a point after attempt. For homecoming that year, a reappearance of an earlier iteration of the Smokey outfit made a show. Despite having a seat in Row 26 in the upper deck Section FF, I made my way down to the first level Section I to snap the fourth photo. By the time of the fifth photo, the Vols were so in command of the game that the darkening skies seen in this shot were meaningless. I snapped the last photo on my way to the stadium. I don't know if they still paint the windows of campus buildings and businesses along Cumberland Avenue, but that was the norm back then. The theme for that year's Homecoming was "Its a Vol world after all" as can be seen on the Nursing Building.
The Vols entered the season with one of the best squads they had ever fielded. In the second game that year they demolished the then #22 Georgia Bulldogs 38-6. They tripped in their next outing in Gainesville, however, losing to Florida 34 to 41. Still, they went on to beat a strong LSU team, tied then #2 Alabama (Alabama would later forfeit the game due to numerous violations of NCAA rules), as well as beating a talented #13 University of Louisville team 45 to 10. They finished the regular season with a very strong 11 wins and 1 loss (technically 10-1-1 at the time as the penalty against Alabama would not come for a time). Tennessee went on to play in the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 1994, against Penn State. I had high hopes for that game, but the Vols took a beating despite taking an initial 10-0 lead. The game ended with a Penn State win 31 to 13. Hopefully, the Volunteers will make a better showing in this Citrus Bowl.
University Grounds is a blog about college and university campuses, their buildings and grounds, and the people who live and work on them.
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