A look back: 1984 Vanderbilt Football

The 1984 Vanderbilt football team jumped off to one of the greatest starts in Vanderbilt football history only to drop six of their last seven. Read how it happened.

The 1984 Vanderbilt football team got off to one of the best starts in modern Vanderbilt football history.  The team featured such stars as offensive tackle Will Wolford, who went on to to be a multiple NFL Pro Bowler, Kurt Page, who set the All-Time Vanderbilt career passing record and Carl Woods, a talented running back from Gallatin, Tennessee.

Vanderbilt was coached by sixth year head coach George McIntyre, who had led Vanderbilt to the Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama just two years earlier. In 1983 Vandy had returned to it's all to familiar losing ways with very disappointing 2-9 finish.  The 1984 team was determined to get back on the winning track and back in a bowl.

Vandy opened up the 1984 season at home against the Kansas State Wildcats.  Vandy jumped out to an early 14-3 halftime lead but by the third quarter KSU had fought it's way back into the game tying the score, 14-14.  Vandy whipped the Cats in the fourth quarter though, 9-0, to win the game 26-14 and start the season a perfect 1-0.

Vandy's next task was to travel to College Park, Maryland to face the heavily favored Maryland Terrapins.  This Maryland team was destined to attend a bowl after accomplishing one of greatest rallies in NCAA football history by ralling to win from a 30 point defecit against the Miami Hurricanes. 

Vanderbilt and the Terrapins were deadlocked 14-14 in the second quarter but Maryland would score no more that day.  Vandy added a field goal in the second quarter, another in the third and one more in the fourth to win 23-14 and push their number of wins to two, matching the 1983 total in just two games.

The third opponent of the 1984 season was the struggling Kansas Jayhawks.  Kansas got off to a good start in the game and led 6-0 in the second quarter off two field goals but Vandy came roaring back, scoring 41 consecutive points to win 41-6 and go to 3-0 on the season.  Vanderbilt rolled up over 500 yards total offense during the game.

Alabama loomed as the fourth opponent of the season. Vandy had not defeated the Crimson Tide since a 14-10 upset in 1969.  In 1983 Bama had defeated Vandy handily in Nashville, 44-24.  Vanderbilt was the Tide's homecoming opponent for the '84 season and over 60,000 crimson cladded fans packed Bryant-Denny stadium.

The Commodores got on the scoreboard first with a 21-yard field goal by Ricky Anderson.  Bama struck back and took the lead with a touchdown run later in the first quarter to make it 7-3 Tide.  In the second quarter Anderson would nail two field goals (47, 36 yds) while Alabama would add a field goal to make it 10-9 Tide at the half.

In the second half Vanderbilt dominated the Tide.  Page completed a touchdown pass to Chuck Scott in the third quarter to give Vanderbilt the lead, 16-10. Alabama added a field goal to make the score 16-13 Vandy.   Later, in the fourth quarter, Page completed another touchdown pass to senior Joe Kelley to push Vandy's lead to 23-13.  Carl Woods completed Vandy's scoring with a 30-yard scamper to increase Vandy's lead to an insurmountable 30-13 late in the game.  Alabama scored on it's last drive of the game and completed a two-point conversion to make the final: Vanderbilt 30 Alabama 21.  

The Alabama win was wildly celebrated by Vanderbilt fans everywhere and pushed VU's record to an incredible 4-0 on the season. For the first time in a while, the Commodores were actually ranked in the top 25.  Next up was the 0-4 Tulane Green Wave.

Tulane had always been a thorn in Vanderbilt's side.  The Green Wave had previously been a member of the SEC until the mid sixties when they decided to go independent.  Vandy was heavily favored against Tulane and most folks figured that Vandy would have little trouble against them. 

Kurt page was intercepted four times against Tulane.  The Tulane quarterback, Ken Karcher, completed 24 of 39 pass for 316 yards.  Vandy trailed 27-13 early in the fourth quarter but could not regain the lead despite six fourth-quarter trips into Tulane territory.  Tulane would hold on to win 27-23 in one of the most dissapointing losses in Vanderbilt football history.  Vandy's record fell to a still not-so-shoddy 4-1 on the season.

In game six, Vanderbilt traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to face LSU.  The Tigers came out roaring and jumped to a 27-3 halftime lead. Vandy wouldn't quite though and 24 points in the second half to make it respectable. LSU scored one more touchdown to win 34-27 in the swamplands.  Vanderbilt fell to 4-2 on the season.

Next up for Vanderbilt was a trip to Athens, Georgia to face the talented Georgia Bulldogs. With the scored tied 21-21 late in the first half, the Bulldogs went crazy, scoring 21 points in the last four minutes of the second quarter to take an incredible 42-21 lead at the half.  The second half wasn't much better as the Dawgs outscored Vandy 20-14 to win 62-35.  Vanderbilt record fell to 4-3 in the aging season.

Homecoming 1984 for Vanderbilt featured the Ole Miss Rebels against Vandy at Vanderbilt stadium.  Vandy jumped out to a 22-10 halftime lead and never looked back.  Kurt page completed 21 of 28 passes to lead Vanderbilt to a 37-20 win over the Rebels.  Vanderbilt improved to 5-3 on season.

The Dores' would fall to the Kentucky Wildcats in a key game in Lexington, Kentucky, 27-18. In the frustating loss, Vandy would outgain the Cats by over 100 yards in the first half but trail 14-13. 

Virginia Tech visited Nashville in the season's ninth game and presented the Commodores with a chance to snare their sixth win on the season.  However, the Hokies powerful defense shut the Vandy offense down, limiting it to just over 243 yards total passing.  The Hokies would go on to prevail, 23-3.   Vandy now stood a 5-5 and awaited arch rival Tennessee.

Tennessee, led by quarterback Tony Robinson, jumped out to a 12-0 halftime lead over the Commodores and led by as much as 26-0 in the third quarter.  Vandy rallied in the fourth quarter though, scoring 13 points to make it 29-13 Tennessee.  A 5-6 final 1984 record would forever be engraved in Vanderbilt players and fans mind. 

The 1984 season proved to be one of the most disapointing ever in Vanderbilt football history.  The expectations were so high after the 4-0 start. It was the first of five near miss seasons in route to 18 straight losing seasons for the Commodores.

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