1986 Sugar Bowl
52nd edition
1234 Total
Miami 7000 7
Tennessee 014147 35
DateJanuary 1, 1986
StadiumLouisiana Superdome
LocationNew Orleans, Louisiana
MVPDaryl Dickey (Tennessee QB)
FavoriteMiami by 8 points[1]
RefereeWendell Shelton (SWC)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersKeith Jackson, Frank Broyles
Sugar Bowl
 < 1985  1987

The 1986 Sugar Bowl was the 52nd edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Wednesday, January 1. Part of the 1985–86 bowl game season, it matched the independent and second-ranked Miami Hurricanes and the #8 Tennessee Volunteers of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).[2]

Underdog Tennessee trailed early, rallied, and won in a rout, 35–7.[3][4][5][6]


Main article: 1985 NCAA Division I-A football season


Main article: 1985 Miami Hurricanes football team

The second-ranked Hurricanes were competing for another national championship; they won ten straight after dropping the opener at home to Florida. Miami's most notable win was at Oklahoma in October, which was the Sooners' only loss.[7]


Main article: 1985 Tennessee Volunteers football team

The #8 Volunteers had two non-conference ties at home (UCLA, Georgia Tech), and a loss at Florida.

Game summary

The game kicked off shortly after 7 p.m. CST, televised by ABC, at the same time as the Orange Bowl on NBC,[2] with top-ranked Penn State and #3 Oklahoma.

Miami appeared dominant on its opening drive, capped with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Vinny Testaverde to Michael Irvin, and took the 7–0 lead into the second quarter. As the game wore on, however, Tennessee's defense began to shut down Miami's vaunted passing attack. Volunteers' quarterback Daryl Dickey threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Smith to tie the game at seven.

A drive from midfield took Tennessee to the Miami nine, where running back Jeff Powell gained eight yards but fumbled at the one, and All-American wide receiver Tim McGee recovered it in the end zone; Tennessee took the lead at 14–7, the score at halftime.

In the third quarter, Sam Henderson scored from a yard out and Tennessee led 21–7, then Powell broke for a sixty-yard run to make it 28–7. In the fourth quarter, Charles Wilson scored on a six-yard run as Tennessee won by a 35–7 margin.[3][4][5][6]

Tennessee quarterback Dickey, a fifth-year senior back-up,[5] was named the game's most valuable player.


First quarter
Second quarter
Third quarter
Fourth quarter


Statistics     Miami     Tennessee
First Downs 22 16
Rushes–yards 30–22 43–211
Passing yards 237 131
Passes (C–A–I) 23–44–4 15–25–1
Total Offense 74–259 68–342
Return yards 34 105
Punts–average 6–38 6–39
Fumbles–lost 5–2 2–1
Turnovers 6 2
Penalties–yards 15–120 11–125
Time of possession 28:59 31:01

The 245 yards of penalties set a new Sugar Bowl record.[5]


Tennessee climbed to fourth in the final AP poll, while Miami fell to ninth.


  1. ^ "The latest line". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 1, 1986. p. 36.
  2. ^ a b "Today's bowl games: Sugar". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). January 1, 1986. p. 5C.
  3. ^ a b Calabria, Pat (January 2, 1986). "This win is a Tennessee waltz". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Newsday. p. 3B.
  4. ^ a b c d "Vols shatter Miami's bid". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. January 2, 1986. p. 23.
  5. ^ a b c d Halvonik, Steve (January 2, 1986). "Tennessee buries Hurricanes, 35-7". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 20.
  6. ^ a b Holbreich, Curt (January 2, 1986). "Tennessee crushes Miami's No. 1 hopes". Pittsburgh Press. p. D1.
  7. ^ Holbreich, Curt (January 1, 1986). "Miami, howevers says it has earned consideration for top ranking". Pittsburgh Press. p. C12.