Aug. 30, 1997
Texas Tech Falls to Tennessee
Heisman Trophy favorite Peyton Manning threw for 310 yards and tied a school record with five touchdown passes as fifth-ranked Tennessee pasted Texas Tech, 52-17 in the season opener for both teams.
Manning, a consensus All-American, overcame a sluggish first quarter to throw all five of his touchdowns in a 30-minute span. He completed 26-of-38 passes before leaving with 4:30 to go in the third quarter.
The five touchdown passes set a new career high for Manning and tied the single-game bests of Andy Kelly in 1990 and Heath Shuler in 1993. He completed passes to 10 different receivers and recorded his ninth career 300-yard game.
"Peyton had a great day," Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer said. "He put up some excellent numbers and got off to a good start."
Manning started slowly with just one completion and an interception on his first two drives. He finally broke through with 3:57 to go in the opening quarter, finding Jeremaine Copeland with a nine-yard scoring toss.
But the Red Raiders, who were 7-5 last season and made their fourth straight bowl appearance, hung tough. They trailed only 10-3 late in the second quarter before a turnover sparked the Volunteers' 34-point run over the next 17 minutes.
Manning found Marcus Nash for a 24-yard scoring strike with 21 seconds left in the half to push Tennessee's lead to 17-3. The Red Raiders fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Tennessee needed just two plays to open a three-touchdown advantage.
Nash finished with seven receptions for 112 yards, his fifth career 100-yard game.
"They played pretty solid and didn't give up anything deep," Nash said. "I think Texas Tech has a good team. They have some quick receivers. We tried to not make any mistakes. We got started kind of slow, but that's to be expected."
Texas Tech quarterback Zebbie Lethridge was 16-for-24 for 170 yards and added 28 yards and a score on the ground. Donnie Hart added seven receptions for 118 yards for the Raiders, who played without senior defensive starters Tony Darden and Eric Butler. The duo are serving one-game suspensions as part of an ongoing NCAA investigation.
"I don't feel like we were intimidated at all," said Lethridge. "It was a great crowd out here today and we had some young guys traveling for the first time. We did a great job of keeping our composure and staying poised."
The Vols have not lost to a non-Southeastern Conference opponent at home since falling to top-ranked Notre Dame in 1990, a span of 15 straight victories.
After Manning found Copeland late in the first quarter, the teams swapped empty possessions until Jeff Hall's 37-yard field goal midway through the second extended Tennessee's lead to 10-0. Jaret Greaser answered Hall's field with one of his own to bring the Raiders within a touchdown.
One of Manning's third-quarter scoring tosses was to Peerless Price, the Volunteers deep threat who overcame a severely injured right ankle suffered in the spring game.
The Red Raiders, who finally got into the end zone with a pair of fourth-quarter scores, have dropped three straight season openers.
The meeting, just the second ever between the schools, was the first since the 1973 Gator Bowl, when Texas Tech posted a 28-19 victory.