It may seem hard to believe, but in 1994, Peyton Manning started his freshman year at Tennessee as the third string quarterback behind Jerry Colquitt (who was later drafted by Carolina) and Todd Helton (yes, the long-time first baseman for the Colorado Rockies). Colquitt who had waited two years to make his first start saw his year come to a close with a knee injury just seven plays into the season against UCLA.
That meant Todd Helton would be at the reigns of the Volunteers offense when Tennessee made the trip to Starkville three weeks later to take on the Bulldogs. Unfortunately for him, and perhaps fortunately for the Rockies seeing how he was being scouted by NFL teams, Helton suffered a knee injury against the Bulldogs, thrusting Peyton Manning into the game.
It looked like the freshman was going to lead Tennessee to a victory, but the Bulldogs forced a fumble with under four minutes to play to give the offense one last chance. Derrick Taite and Eric Moulds helped provide a furious charge at the end zone, including a fourth down conversion along the way.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good when Taite threw the winning touchdown pass to Kendell Watkins on fourth and goal with under a minute to play. That win would be the last the Bulldogs would have against Tennessee until 2012.
The drive gets bonus points for sweet uniforms and Hank Flick (..probably should still be PA guy..) in the background.
Seeing how his teammate fumbled to set up the Bulldogs' win, who else thinks that may have been the first collegiate instance of the Manning Face?