Tennessee has a long history of success in bowl games, ranking in the top five in appearances with and top ten in wins. Their first bowl appearance one came back in in the 1938 when they shut out Oklahoma 17-0 in the Orange Bowl. That victory secured Tennessee’s first National Championship. Tennessee has since claimed 5 more National Championships. Their next nine bowl appearances were all in major bowls including the Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Cotton Bowl between 1939 and 1956.
During that stretch Tennessee would claim three more National Championships under their legendary coach Robert Neyland, including back to back titles in 1950 and 1951. They’d continue to be a national power into the 1960’s and would win their fifth championship in 1967, despite losing the Orange Bowl that year to Oklahoma 28-24. Tennessee would continue to be a bowl fixture throughout the next decades but wouldn’t appear in another championship game for 30 years after that victory. They wouldn’t become a championship contender again until a quarterback by the name of Peyton Manning showed up on campus.
Manning would lead the Volunteers to the championship game against Nebraska in 1998 Orange Bowl. It was Peyton Manning’s last game in college and he was unable to bring Tennessee their long awaited sixth championship when Tennessee lost in a blowout 42-17.Tennesee would return to the national championship a year later, defeating Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl.