|1997 Tennessee Volunteers football|
SEC Eastern Division Champions
|SEC Championship Game, W 30–29 vs. Auburn|
|Orange Bowl, L 42–17 vs. Nebraska|
|Conference||Southeastern Conference Eastern Division|
|1997 record||11–2 (7–1 SEC)|
|Head coach||Phillip Fulmer|
|Offensive coordinator||David Cutcliffe|
|Defensive coordinator||John Chavis|
|Home stadium||Neyland Stadium
|1997 SEC football standings|
|#7 Tennessee x†||7||–||1||11||–||2|
|#11 Auburn xy||6||–||2||10||–||3|
|#13 LSU x||6||–||2||9||–||3|
|#22 Ole Miss||4||–||4||8||–||4|
|Championship: Tennessee 30, Auburn 29|
|† – Conference champion
x – Division champion/co-champions
y – Championship game participant
Rankings from AP Poll
The 1997 Tennessee Volunteers football team represented the University of Tennessee during the 1997 NCAA Division I-A football season. Quarterback Peyton Manning had already completed his degree in three years, and had been projected to be the top overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, but returned to Tennessee for his senior year. The Volunteers opened the season with victories against Texas Tech and UCLA, but for the third time in his career, Manning fell to Florida, 33–20. The Vols won the rest of their regular season games, finishing 10–1, and advanced to the SEC Championship Game game against Auburn. Down 20–7, Manning led the Vols to a 30–29 victory. Throwing for four touchdowns, he was named the game's MVP, but injured himself in the process. The #3 Vols were matched up with #2 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Had Tennessee won and top-ranked Michigan lost to Washington State in the Rose Bowl, the Vols would have been expected to win the national championship. However, the Vols' defense could not stop Nebraska's rushing attack, giving up over 400 yards on the ground in a 42–17 loss. As a senior, Manning won numerous awards. He was a consensus first-team All-American and won the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Award, and the Best College Football Player ESPY Award, among others. However, he did not win the Heisman Trophy, finishing second to Charles Woodson of Michigan.
|August 30||7:45 PM||Texas Tech*||#5||Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN||ESPN||W 52–17||106,285|
|September 6||3:30 PM||at UCLA*||#3||Rose Bowl • Pasadena, CA||ABC||W 30-24||62,619|
|September 20||3:30 PM||at #1 Florida||#4||Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL (Third Saturday in September)||CBS||L 20–33||85,714|
|October 4||3:30 PM||Ole Miss||#10||Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN||CBS||W 31–17||106,229|
|October 11||3:30 PM||#15 Georgia||#10||Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN||CBS||W 38–13||106,656|
|October 18||7:00 PM||at Alabama||#9||Legion Field • Birmingham, AL (Third Saturday in October)||ESPN||W 38–21||83,091|
|November 1||12:30 PM||South Carolina||#8||Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN||JPS||W 22–7||106,301|
|November 8||4:00 PM||#25 Southern Miss*||#7||Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN||PPV||W 44–20||107,073|
|November 15||8:00 PM||at Arkansas||#5||War Memorial Stadium • Little Rock, AR||ESPN2||W 30–22||53,235|
|November 22||12:30 PM||at Kentucky||#5||Commonwealth Stadium • Lexington, KY (Battle for the Barrel)||ESPN2||W 59–31||61,076|
|November 29||12:00 PM||Vanderbilt||#3||Neyland Stadium • Knoxville, TN||CBS||W 17–10||106,683|
|December 6||8:00 PM||vs. #11 Auburn||#3||Georgia Dome • Atlanta, GA (SEC Championship Game)||ABC||W 30–29||74,896|
|January 2||8:00 PM||vs. #2 Nebraska*||#3||Pro Player Stadium • Miami Gardens, FL (Orange Bowl)||CBS||L 17–42||74,002|
|*Non-conference game. Homecoming. #Rankings from Coaches Poll. All times are in Eastern Time.|
The following members of the team went on to play in the NFL:
- Shaun Ellis, Defensive End
- Terry Fair, Defensive Back,
- Jamal Lewis, Running Back
- Travis Henry, Running Back
- Travis Stephens, Running Back
- Leonard Little, Defensive End
- Peyton Manning, Quarterback
- Peerless Price, Wide Receiver
- Trey Teague, Center
- Al Wilson, Linebacker
- Raynoch Thompson, Linebacker
- Deon Grant, DB
- Dwayne Goodrich, DB
- Chad Clifton, OT
- Jeff Hall, K
- Bill Duff, DT
- Marcus Nash, WR
Cosey Coleman, OL
Awards and honors 
- Peyton Manning, consensus first-team All-American
- Peyton Manning, Maxwell Award winner
- Peyton Manning, Davey O'Brien Award winner
- Peyton Manning, James E. Sullivan Award
- Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas Award winner
- Peyton Manning, Best College Football Player ESPY Award winner
- Peyton Manning, runner-up, Heisman Trophy
- "Neyland Stadium". utsports.com. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- "Nothing to Prove; Manning Made His Decision to Stay at Tennessee, and the Rest Is History". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California). September 3, 1997.
- "Tenn. Jumps To No. 3 in Poll". The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). September 1, 1997.
- "UCLA Rallies in Second Half Against Tennessee, but Comes Up Short for Second Week in a Row, 30–24". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California). September 7, 1997.
- Rhoden, William C. (September 21, 1997). "Manning's Nightmare Continues". The New York Times (New York City, New York). Retrieved December 24, 2007.
- "1997 SEC Championship Game Recap". secsports.com. Retrieved December 24, 2007.[dead link]
- Fulmer, Phillip (1999). A Perfect Season. Rutledge Hill Press. pp. pp. 7. ISBN 1-55853-798-8. "Peyton had played with a lot of pain in the Orange Bowl because of an injury he had suffered in our SEC Championship victory against Auburn, and his mobility was limited throughout the game against Nebraska"
- MacCambridge, Michael (2005). ESPN College Football Encyclopedia. ESPN Books. pp. pp. 1401. ISBN 1-4013-3703-1.
- MacCambridge, Michael (2005). ESPN College Football Encyclopedia. ESPN Books. pp. pp. 1462. ISBN 1-4013-3703-1.
- MacCambridge, Michael (2005). ESPN College Football Encyclopedia. ESPN Books. pp. pp. 1402. ISBN 1-4013-3703-1.
- "The 2005 ESPY Awards – ESPY Awards past winners". ESPN. Retrieved December 20, 2007.
- "1997 Heisman Trophy". heisman.com. Retrieved February 3, 2008.[dead link]
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