Written by Jared Rosenthal
Coach Gus Duggerton is 13-0 this season, seeking his first natty tomorrow night (photo courtesy of WKRN.com).
The last time Tennessee won a national title was in 1998, which was just one year after Peyton Manning graduated from Knoxville. In that inaugural game of the BCS National Championship, the undefeated Volunteers beat Florida State by a score of 23-16, fulfilling their perfect season. This Sunday night, “Big Cat”, also known as Dan Katz, host of “Pardon My Take” and one of the primary faces of Barstool Sports, will be aiming to emulate the ‘98 Vols team in NCAA Football 14 with a win against Virginia Tech (12-1) in the natty.
1998 Tennessee Volunteers celebrating (photo courtesy of ThePostGame.com)
Big Cat demands excellence from his Volunteers through Coach Gus Duggerton, a man that is becoming just as iconic and as likable as Mickey Mouse. From his first season to his fifth, “Duggs” has been a winner his entire career! Coach Duggerton is a MAC champ, Fiesta Bowl winner, Rose Bowl victor, and won the Cotton Bowl last season. In the five seasons that Duggs has been a part of college football, none of his other teams (Toledo, Florida State, USC, and Texas Tech) have strung together 13 consecutive wins and advanced to the coveted national championship stage, so seeking a title tomorrow night will be exhilarating for Duggs fans across the nation.
Two seasons ago, Hollywood Duggs came close to winning a BCS National Championship, but instead secured a Rose Bowl win against Michigan State (photo courtesy of YouTube).
Though Tennessee has encountered a few nail biters this season--like the ending of the Southeastern Conference championship game against Ole Miss--QB Caleb Pressley has shown tremendous leadership which has steered the Vols towards a path of success. Pressley may not have won the Heisman Memorial Trophy, but he did win the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and the Davey O’Brien Award (to say he was gypped for the Heisman is an understatement). Obviously, Coach Duggs was Coach of the Year, but this also would not have been possible without HB JoJo Smalls, Returner of the Year. Smalls came up BIG TIME in multiple games this year and returned from his injury--which happened in the fourth week against Florida--as if nothing ever happened. Lastly, without a guy like RB Rico Burgerton, a player who has unmatched charisma and unconditional strength, the Vols would not be where they are today.
This is not the first time that Coach Duggs has been on the front cover of Sports Illustrated and definitely will not be the last (photo courtesy of Twitter).
Last time Virginia Tech played against Tennessee back in 2016, the Volunteers clobbered the Hokies 45-24. Between Virginia Tech seeking vengeance, the undefeated season that Coach Duggerton and his Vols are fighting to protect, and the eliteness of both programs, you can already foresee how intense this natty will be when Big Cat picks up his controller and goes to work. My prediction is that Tennessee wins 31-27 and that there will be an epic celebration after the victory. When Coach Duggs pulls off the undefeated season, two questions will be raised:
Was this the greatest/most dominant team in college football history? (I’ll put them ahead of last year’s LSU team)
Where will Duggs win next season? (I’m sensing Wisconsin based on the way Big Cat replied to Graham Mertz’s tweet)
You can watch the game on Twitch, which can be accessed through the link Big Cat will attach to his Instagram story @barstoolbigcat. I will be watching the game from a cabin in Tennessee, proudly repping my Duggs tank. Let’s hope Coach Duggerton can execute in the big game to bring that beloved title back to Rocky Top!
Tennessee has one of the most electric fanbases in all of college sports (photo courtesy of A to Z Sports Nashville).