KNOXVILLE, TN (UTsports.com) -- The University of Tennessee football team will make its sixth appearance in the TaxSlayer Bowl (formerly known as the Gator Bowl) and its first since 1994, as the Vols have accepted an invitation to play against the University of Iowa on January 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. Kickoff is slated for 3:20 p.m. EST, and the game will be televised by ESPN.
The appearance marks the first January bowl game for the Vols since the Outback Bowl following the 2007 season, when Tennessee defeated Wisconsin 21-17 on Jan. 1, 2008.
Tennessee accepted the school's 50th bowl invitation, a total that ranks the Vols tied for fourth all-time among college football programs. The TaxSlayer Bowl will represent the third all-time meeting between Tennessee and Iowa, with the teams splitting the first two meetings. The Vols won the last meeting in the 1987 Kickoff Classic, a 23-22 win in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Aug. 30, and the Hawkeyes won the inaugural meeting in the 1982 Peach Bowl, a 28-22 decision in Atlanta on Dec. 31 that year.
"Playing in a New Year's bowl game is a tremendous reward for our coaching staff, players, alumni and fans," said Dave Hart, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee. "I am especially pleased for our seniors. We are honored and appreciative to be invited to such a historic bowl venue."
"The opportunity to play in the TaxSlayer Bowl represents a tremendous opportunity for our football program," said Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones. "The chance to return to a New Year's bowl game in Florida represents another significant step for our program, and we are excited to play against a quality opponent in Iowa. We are looking forward to the game, and I am sure that Vol Nation will be well-represented in Jacksonville on January 2."
The last appearance for Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl, then known as the Gator Bowl, was a 45-23 win over Virginia Tech on Dec. 30, 1994, with running back James Stewart winning Most Valuable Player honors. The other four appearances for the Vols in this game were in 1957 (3-0 win over Texas A&M, 1966 (18-12 win over a Floyd Little and Larry Csonka-led Syracuse squad), 1969 (a 14-13 loss to Florida), and 1973 (a 28-19 loss to Texas Tech).
TICKET INFORMATIONFor Tennessee Fund donors and season-ticket holders who have requested TaxSlayer Bowl tickets through the University: tickets will be allocated based on Tennessee Fund donor rank, and requests do not guarantee that tickets will be available for purchase. The deadline for submitting requests for tickets is Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 5:00 pm EST by logging into your uttix.com accounts or by calling the Tennessee Fund office on Monday, Dec. 8 or Tuesday, Dec. 9 at (865) 974-1218.
Tickets can also be purchased through the TaxSlayer Bowl website at taxslayerbowl.com.
Tennessee rang in 1986 in grand fashion, taking a 35-7 decision over the Miami Hurricanes in the 52nd Sugar Bowl. A crowd of 77,432 saw the Vols spot the Hurricanes an early 7-0 lead, but, after Daryl Dickey and Jeff Smith hooked up for a 6-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter, the Vols were completely in control.
The Vols took the lead late in the first half when wide receiver Tim McGee corralled a Vol fumble in the end zone. They extended their lead in the third quarter as fullback Sam Henderson scored from 1-yard out after Darrin Miller's fumble recovery gave the Vols the ball at the Miami 32.
After a Miami punt, Tennessee's Jeff Powell brought Vol fans to their feet, sprinting 60 yards for another Vol touchdown. All-America defensive back Chris White intercepted Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde in the fourth quarter to set up a 6-yard scoring run by Charles Wilson.