College Football Retro Review: 1987 Peach Bowl—Tennessee vs. Indiana

Michael ShibleySenior Analyst IJune 15, 2008

1988 Peach Bowl: Tennessee Volunteers vs. Indiana Hoosiers

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

January 2, 1988

Mizlou TV Sports

Background: Tennessee finished the regular season 9-2-1, dropping games to Alabama and Boston College.  This team had a flair for the dramatic, coming from behind four times in the fourth quarter (one game being the tie against Auburn).

The Hoosiers finished the season 8-3, beating Michigan and Ohio State in the same year for the first time in a century.  This set up another SEC vs. Big Ten battle in a bowl game, and this one went down to the wire.


The Game: A then-Peach Bowl record crowd of 58,737 packed Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (the game was moved to the Georgia Dome in 1993) and saw the Volunteers explode to a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter, as Vol quarterback Jeff Francis threw TD passes to Anthony Miller and Terrence Cleveland.

The Hoosiers fought back, using a fake field goal to take the lead 22-21 late in the fourth quarter.  As they did so often in 1987, the Vols rallied—they got the ball back with 6:00 left, and Reggie Cobb again was the difference as he took it into the end zone from nine yards out with 1:52 to go.  Charles Kimbrough's INT gave the Vols a 27-22 win.


The Big Play: Cobb's late TD run of course is a big play.  However, my favorite was the 45-yard TD pass from Francis to Miller—a beautiful pass right in stride as Miller showed that Tennessee had much more speed than Indiana.  Wait, an SEC team with more speed than a Big Ten team?  Where have I seen that before?


MVP: Reggie Cobb - The Knoxville native had 146 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning TD in the fourth quarter.


Randomness: As the cameras panned the Tennessee sidelines, there was a very strange shot—Phillip Fulmer (150 lbs. lighter), David Cutcliffe, and Randy Sanders (still a backup QB) were all talking.


Impact: Indiana had a solid season and had a few more decent seasons before becoming a Big Ten doormat from 1995-2006.  This was the Volunteers' fifth comeback game in 1987 and it gave the Vols their first 10-win season since 1972.  However, the Vols would not get another win in 1988 until October 22.


Rating: Another fun comeback win for the Vols.  However, being up 21-3 early meant the Big Orange should not have been in that situation.  But it proved once again that the Vols were cool in the clutch: ***1/2


Next Game: Tennessee vs. Auburn, 1989