Here's how 9 Tennessee football quarterbacks beat Alabama | Mike Strange

Mike Strange

Quarterbacks, it is said, get too much of the credit and too much of the blame. If so, the Third Saturday of October is no exception.

Certainly, the annals of Tennessee’s wins over Alabama are populated by running backs, receivers, linebackers and kickers who rose to the occasion as heroes.  And let’s not forget the guys up front, anonymously winning battles in the trenches.

Nevertheless, today we salute the quarterbacks who have been winners against Tennessee’s most difficult foe, since the Vols joined the T-formation in 1964.

Here are your nine winners, in chronological order. It’s been a while since anyone joined the list.

Bubba Wyche, 1967, 1968: In ’67, Wyche got the nod as third-stringer after injuries had sidelined Dewey Warren and Charlie Fulton. Wyche got it done. Albert Dorsey’s interception return for a touchdown clinched a 24-13 win.

In ’68, Wyche passed for 100 yards in a 10-9 squeaker in which Richmond Flowers scored the only touchdown.

Bobby Scott, 1969, 1970: As a junior in 1969, Scott ran for a TD and threw for another in a 41-14 rout. In ’70, Scott scored once in a 24-0 victory, a day UT intercepted eight Tide passes.

Bobby Scott went 2-0 against Alabama in 1969-70.

Alan Cockrell, 1982, 1983: More than a decade passed until Cockrell threw two TD passes in the 35-28 win in 1982 and three in a 41-34 thriller the following year.

Tony Robinson, 1984, 1985*: Robinson scored on a two-point conversion keeper with 2:09 to play for a 28-27 win in 1984.

Tony Robinson eludes pursuers in 1985.

In ’85 in Birmingham, Robinson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter with UT up 13-7. The final was 16-14. So Robinson gets the lion’s share of the credit.

Daryl Dickey, 1985: Dickey took over for Robinson and didn’t do anything catastrophic. Dale Jones’ late interception sealed the deal. Dickey emerged as a competent leader as the Vols went on to an SEC title and Sugar Bowl rout of Miami.

Peyton Manning, 1995, 1996, 1997: Manning wasn’t quite ready to beat Alabama as a freshman in ’94 but he sure was in 1995, throwing for 301 yards in a 41-14 romp at Legion Field.

He passed for 304 yards in ’97, a 38-21 win back in Birmingham. The ’96 game in Knoxville was not Manning’s best, but Jay Graham’s late 79-yard touchdown lit the victory cigars, 20-13.

Peyton Manning passes past Alabama defenders on Oct. 26, 1996, at Neyland Stadium. The Vols defeated Alabama 20-13.

Tee Martin, 1998, 1999: Martin ran for a score and was 10-of-14 passing in a 35-18 win in the championship season.

In ’99, with the game in Tuscaloosa for the first time in 69 years, Martin was even better, running for two scores and passing for another in a 21-7 win.

Tee Martin in action against Alabama on Oct. 23, 1999, in Tuscaloosa. The Vols won 21-7.

Casey Clausen, 2000, 2001, 2003: Like Manning, Clausen beat ‘Bama twice on the road. The 2000 game, a 20-10 UT victory in Neyland, was his first career start.

In 2001 in Tuscaloosa, Clausen passed for 293 yards and generated three touchdowns in a 35-24 win as Tennessee became the first foe ever to beat Alabama seven straight years.

Casey Clausen, left, won six straight games after taking over as freshman starter in 2000.

The Tide won in Knoxville in 2002 but Clausen was heroic in 2003, the five-overtime 51-43 marathon. To get to overtime he converted a fourth-and-19 pass to C.J. Fayton to prolong the drive. He scored the game-winner himself in the fifth overtime.

Erik Ainge, 2004, 2006: The freshman didn’t have impressive numbers in a 17-13 win in 2004, but he did lob a 1-yard TD to Jayson Swain.

Erik Ainge is the last Tennessee quarterback to have beaten Alabama, in 2006.

Ainge passed for 302 yards in the ’06 game, but his biggest play was chasing down Alabama’s Simeon Castille after an interception to push him out of bounds at the UT 8. Bama got the field goal but thanks to Ainge’s hustle, Tennessee got the win 16-13.

Mike Strange is a former writer for the News Sentinel. He currently writes a weekly sports column for Shopper News.