Oct 20, 2012; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers former head coach Phillip Fulmer waves to the crowd after he was inducted into the college football hall of fame prior to the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Neyland Stadium. Alabama won by a score of 44 to 13. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Elite Eight of BCS Era Champions: 1998 Tennessee vs. 2010 Auburn

Tee Martin may not have been one of the all-time great college quarterbacks, but he has a proven track record for one-upping them. Martin delivered the Tennessee Volunteers the national championship that eluded superstar Peyton Manning in his illustrious career.

The dual threat standout Martin has another opportunity to outshine another collegiate superstar in the Vols’ Elite Eight match-up, pitting SEC against SEC. But as he repeatedly proved in a stellar 2010, besting Cam Newton is a tall order.

Newton started just one season while with the Auburn Tigers, but what a season it was. Newton’s campaign ranks among the all-time best for an individual, as he became the first (and still only) player with 30 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns.

So, Martin’s individual numbers may not stack up with Newton’s — whose do? — and Tennessee’s 33.2 points per game fall short of Auburn’s 41.2. Beyond Peerless Price’s impressive statistics (61 catches for 920 yards and 10 touchdowns), the Tigers’ skill position players accrued gaudier numbers.

The backfield match-up of Tennessee’s Travis Henry, Travis Stephens and Jamal Lewis triumvirate against Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb is certainly intriguing. They accounted for similar totals: 1944 for the Vol trio vs. 1903 for Auburn’s pair. Of course, Newton’s 1473 yards easily puts the Tigers over the top.

But then, Tennessee’s championship run was built on a powerhouse defense. The 1998 Vols were not the first outstanding SEC defense of the modern college football era, but it was the initial unit I remember watching and marveling at the speed.

UT held opponents to an average of 14.5 points per game behind the aggressive linebacker blitzes of defensive coordinator John Chavis, pressuring quarterbacks into mistakes exploited in the secondary and shutting off the run game.

Two SEC teams enter this final Elite Eight match-up, one goes into the Final Four. Who is it going to be?

BCS Elite Eight: 1998 Tennessee vs. 2010 Auburn

  • 2010 Auburn Tigers (77%, 85 Votes)
  • 1998 Tennessee Volunteers (23%, 28 Votes)

Total Voters: 111

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Tags: Auburn Tigers Football

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