Dome is bad luck for UT

I don't believe in jinxes but there's no question that Tennessee's football team historically has played poorly in the Georgia Dome, site of the Vols' upcoming Peach Bowl date with Clemson.

Here's a recap:

• DEC. 31, 2002: Tennessee plays perhaps its worst game in 10 years, losing 30-3 to a so-so Maryland team in the Peach Bowl. Making matters worse, the Vols came out flat, then appeared to quit in the second half.

• DEC. 8, 2001: One week after playing brilliantly in beating Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators at The Swamp, the Vols laid an egg against an underdog LSU team they had beaten 26-18 in September. Moreover, UT's second-half fold came against a team reduced to its second-string quarterback (Matt Mauck) and its second-string tailback (Domanick Dunn).

• DEC. 5, 1998: Even on its way to a perfect season, Tennessee gave a decidedly imperfect performance against Mississippi State in the SEC Championship Game. Kevin Prentiss' 83-yard punt return gave MSU a 14-10 lead with 8:43 remaining. Luckily, Tee Martin saved the day by hitting Peerless Price and Cedrick Wilson with TD passes down the stretch.

• DEC. 6, 1997: Playing perhaps the worst first half in school history, Tennessee looked like a third-grade flag football team against underdog Auburn. Following a fiery halftime harrangue by Al Wilson, the Vols rallied to win 30-29.

So, even though UT is 2-2 at the Georgia Dome, the Vols have yet to play well there.

In fact, they've been downright inept in Atlanta for the past two decades if you count road games at Georgia Tech's Grant Field. They lost 31-21 in 1982, squeaked by 24-21 in 1984 and lost 14-13 in '86. The last time Tennessee played well in Atlanta was in 1980, when a Vol team that would finish 5-6 beat the Yellow Jackets 23-10.

Of course, the entire state of Georgia has been a lost cause for Tennessee the past few years. Counting losses to Georgia at Sanford Stadium in 2000 (21-10) and 2002 (18-12), the SEC Championship Game loss to LSU and the Peach Bowl loss to Maryland, the Vols are 0-4 in the Peach State since 1998.

That doesn't bode well for the 2003 Vols, whether you believe in jinxes or not. Top Stories