January 4, 1999
TEMPE, Ariz. – Tennessee is undefeated, and almost certainly
Quarterback Tee Martin and the top-ranked Volunteers claimed one piece of
the national championship Monday night, capping a perfect season with a very
imperfect 23-16 victory over No. 2 Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl.
It was rusty and rocky, but under the new Bowl Championship Series format,
the Volunteers were crowned national champions in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’
The Associated Press media poll will be released early Tuesday, and although
third-ranked Ohio State may plead for consideration, the Vols pulled together
in the second half and held off the Seminoles.
Their last national championship was in 1951.
But it wasn’t easy. Martin threw two touchdown passes, including a 79-yarder
to Peerless Price with 9:17 to go to put the Vols ahead 20-9. But the
Seminoles, despite their own turnover and penalty problems, kept coming back.
Florida State cut the lead to 23-16 on Marcus Outzen’s 7-yard TD run with
3:42 left. The play was set up by his 39-yard pass to Ron Dugans on a
And just when it looked like the Vols would score again to put the game out
of reach, linebacker Brian Allen recovered Travis Henry’s fumble at the 10 to
give Florida State one more chance.
Outzen, though, was overmatched in just his third start. On Florida State’s
first play after the recovery, his long pass intended for Peter Warrick was
tipped by Deon Grant and intercepted by Steve Johnson, who returned it 20 yards
to the Florida State 45.
The Vols ran out the clock and the sideline emptied as coach Phillip Fulmer
ran to midfield with his daughters in tow.
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer