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Historical Analysis: Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee

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Yay for new weekly features!

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl - Nebraska v Tennessee
Clearly, Butch Jones is excited about this new weekly feature.
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

As we travel through the 2017 football season, I’ve decided to start a new weekly feature where we focus on the history between Georgia Tech and its weekly opponent. The goal of this is to have a better understanding of the history of Georgia Tech. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to let me know down in the comments. Any research will be linked to, and all of the charts and everything I get will come from the wonderful resource that all of you should check out: Winsipedia.com.

Charts courtesy of Winsipedia.com

Georgia Tech-Tennessee is an historic match-up whose roots date all the way back to 1902, when the Yellow Jackets lost the first match 10-6. Now while that was the first game, this rivalry didn’t really pick up until partially in the 1940s and then into the 1950s and on. Even after Tech left the SEC in 1963, the series continued on, though more sporadically.

The Names to Know

Robert Neyland | Tennessee Head Coach (1926-1934; 1936-1940; 1946-1952)

If you ask any fan of Tennessee to name the one person every fan should know about, I guarantee that 9 out of 10 would say Robert Neyland. The legendary head coach and stadium namesake, Neyland is probably every Volunteers fan’s favorite historic coach. Neyland finished his historic career with the Vols with a 173-31-12 record. Needless to say, he was pretty good at the whole football coaching thing, not to mention also being a general in the US Military.

Looking at Neyland’s legacy against Georgia Tech, he didn’t coach much against them, producing only a 2-2 record against the Jackets, but he had perhaps Tech’s greatest coaches: Bobby Dodd.

Bobby Dodd | Georgia Tech Head Coach (1945-1966) | Tennessee Player (1928-1930)

Before he was the legendary head coach on the Flats, Bobby Dodd was a quarterback for Neyland’s Volunteers, though that isn’t necessarily where he wanted to be, but his dream school (Georgia Tech) didn’t offer him a scholarship. As quarterback of the Vols, Dodd never faced Tech, but did lead his teams to 27-1-2 record as a starter.

After his college years, Dodd finally got the chance to make it at his dream school. Dodd started coaching the Yellow Jackets in 1945, taking over for William Alexander, and proceeded to become the team’s best head coach to date, compiling a 165-64-8 record. Against his alma mater, Dodd’s teams held a 9-7-1 record, including a 2-2 record against his former coach.

Bowden Wyatt | Tennessee Coach (1955-1962) | Tennessee Player (1936-1938)

Bobby Dodd’s main adversary at Tennessee was fellow alumnus Bowden Wyatt. Wyatt led the Volunteers to a 2-3-1 record against Dodd’s Jackets.

Bill Curry | Georgia Tech Head Coach (1980-1986) | Georgia Tech Player (1962-1964)

Johnny Majors | Tennessee Head Coach (1977-1992) | Tennessee Player (1953-1956)

These next two guys are both former players for the teams they coached. They’re also the two of the last coaches from Georgia Tech and Tennessee to face off against each other, as this year’s match-up is the first since 1987, excluding Bobby Ross in 1987. In their games, Majors’ Vols held a 4-2-1 edge.

Notable Games

1905 One of the first games between these two historic opponents saw John Heisman’s Georgia Tech team completely dismantle Tennessee 45-0 in Tech’s second victory in the series.

1946 After a 35-year break, this is the year where this rivalry really started. It was a meaningful game for both sides. For the Yellow Jackets, it was Dodd’s first game against his college head coach, Robert Neyland. For the Vols, it was Neyland’s first game back after serving in WWII. Neyland’s Vols won 13-9.

1947 In year two of Dodd vs. Neyland, the pupil defeated the master, as the Yellow Jackets won 27-0.

1954 After another short break, the Yellow Jackets and Volunteers picked their rivalry back up. With Robert Neyland now retired, another branch of Neyland’s tree took over: Bowden Wyatt. In his first game against Tech, though, Wyatt’s Vols fell short, losing 28-7.

1956 No. 2 Georgia Tech vs. No. 3 Tennessee with a trip to the Sugar Bowl on the line. Future Vols coach Johnny Majors led Tennessee to a 6-0 victory that propelled them to No. 1 in the AP poll, though the Vols ended up losing in the Sugar Bowl, missing out on the National Championship.

1963 I’ll just leave this here.

1980 This season saw two former alumni come back to their respective schools to try to rebuild them. After being tied 10-10 going into the final quarter, the Vols were able to run away with a 23-10 victory after a touchdown run from James Berry.

1984 This was a wild one. A touchdown from running back Robert Lavette gave the Yellow Jackets an early lead, but the Vols came right back with a touchdown and two field goals of their own. Going into the half, the Jackets held a 14-13 advantage thanks to a John Dewberry touchdown pass, but the Vols regained that advantage with a touchdown and two-point conversion. Lavette and Dewberry struck back, with the former running 59 yards to set up Dewberry’s two-yard touchdown to tie things up. Tony Robinson and the Vols managed to put together one last drive that included a fourth down conversion to set up Fuad Reveiz for the game-winning 22-yard field goal.

1986 In the last battle between Majors and Curry, the Yellow Jackets squeaked away with a 14-13 victory. The Vols lined up for what would have been the game-winning field goal, but Carlos Reveiz (Fuad’s younger brother) kicked the would-be game winner off the upright.

Conclusion

Monday night will see the renewal of an historic rivalry that has seen some great players and coaches take the field against each other. There’s a lot of history here between the Yellow Jackets and the Volunteers, and while I would have loved to share it all with y’all, I had to just pick a few key moments to share with y’all. I definitely encourage y’all to continue to read the history between these two teams.

What’s your favorite historical Georgia Tech-Tennessee moment?