Posted: 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 30, 2013
If you've been reading our 100 days of Vols, you've seen that many of our articles have long personal preambles about how much a particular game or play meant to us back in those times and places. This one isn't like that. I only remember bits and pieces of 1995, and the only really clear memories I have from the Citrus Bowl were a whole lot of rain, Tennessee winning, and Ohio State whining about cleats.
But growing up watching a lot of the NFL, I'm more and more impressed when I look back and recognize all these names on the 1995 Ohio State team--the 1995 Ohio State team that lost to Tennessee. They had a future first overall pick and perennial all-Pro at tackle and a Heisman winner and future four-time Pro Bowler at running back, and that was just the beginning. And yes, Eddie George got his yards, going for over 100 on the day and averaging four yards per carry. But that offense, on the whole, lost the battle to the Tennessee defense. They were only able to get it into the end zone twice, and when it really mattered, the Heisman winner and the frightening offensive line took backstage to a defensive front clad in orange.
Late in the second quarter, Ohio State had a 3rd and two at the three. They had a 7-0 lead and could take command of the game by punching it in. And they had a great back and a great offensive line, so they ran up the middle. And gained a yard. And then, on 4th and inches, they ran up the middle again. And they met Bill Duff. Eddie George may've gained 101 yards on the day, but when Ohio State had a chance to take a commanding lead, he couldn't gain an inch. The offense certainly did their part, with Peyton Manning hitting a deep touchdown to Joey Kent and Jay Graham scampering for a 69-yard touchdown to put Tennessee on the board on his way to 154 on the day. But on that afternoon, whenever Ohio State threatened, it was the Tennessee defense that stole the show.