Dec. 8, 2011
When the Commodores take the field to play in the 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, it will be the program's fifth all-time bowl appearance. To revisit Vanderbilt's bowl games of the past, VUCommodores will highlight a different bowl game every Thursday leading up to the Liberty Bowl.
Included with each game recap will be highlights, statistics and an interview with a former player from the game.
The first bowl game we will reflect back on is the 1955 Gator Bowl - Vanderbilt's first-ever bowl game.
1955 Gator Bowl
Dec. 31, 1955 Jacksonville, Fla. Municipal Stadium
Final Stats (PDF) | Gator Bowl Video | CHC: VU plays in Gator Bowl
Q&A with Quarterback Don Orr
A Miami, Fla., native, Orr passed for a touchdown and ran for another in the game. He finished 4-6 for 67 yards and rushed 10 times for 43 yards.
What you remember the most from the Gator Bowl?
The opening kickoff. Larry Hayes went down and hit the Auburn receiver after he took about two steps. He was offside, so we had to kickoff again. On the next attempt he was onside and he did the same thing to the returner. That sort of set the tone for the whole game.
You suffered a dislocated right elbow in the regular-season finale against Tennessee, was there any doubt you'd be ready to play in the bowl game?
I never had any doubt but they did. Initially they said that if we start on defense, they would were going to start Tommy Harkins, who was an end they had groomed for the quarterback spot the last couple of weeks. I basically said, 'I don't think that will get the job done, so they started me.' I dislocated my right elbow in the Tennessee game. I was in pretty good shape. They taped my elbow in a figure eight like they do knees to keep you from over extending it. When I threw the ball, I couldn't throw it out of joint again. They fixed it so it would only go so far.
What was the experience like of playing in the bowl game?
It was exciting. We were all geared up for it. I guess you look forward to going to a bowl game when you play college football. Back then there were only five or six bowls; today there are 35.
Have you attended any other Vanderbilt bowl games since the Gator Bowl?
I went to the Hall of Fame Bowl and I went to the Peach Bowl. I plan on going to the Liberty Bowl.
What are the benefits you found from going to a bowl game?
I think it is a stepping stone for the next year. If you go to the bowl game and you have the fans behind you, it is kind of a boost for the next year.
How exciting has this football season been for you?
I am really excited about the way Coach Franklin has them playing. They are playing until the last whistle blows.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Still hurting from a dislocated shoulder suffered in the Tennessee game, quarterback Don Orr scored two touchdowns and set up another as the Commodores defeated No. 8-ranked Auburn in the 11th Gator Bowl 25-13.
The Vanderbilt defense provided a huge lift for the Commodores, recovering five fumbles in the victory.
Vanderbilt's first score was set up when Orr recovered an Auburn fumble. Eight plays later, Joe Stephenson ran seven yards for the VU touchdown.
Auburn answered on a 38-yard TD pass from Howell Tubbs to Rob James in the second quarter, but the rest of the game belonged to the Black and Gold. On Vanderbilt's following possession, Orr carried the ball 44 yards to the Tigers' 28. He then passed to Joe Scales, who advanced to the Auburn 4-yard line. On the next play, Orr carried the ball over the line after a fake to fullback Phil King to give Vanderbilt a 13-7 lead at the half.
At the opening of the third quarter, Vanderbilt guard Sonny Tatum recovered an Auburn fumble, and the Commodores marched quickly into scoring position as Orr crossed the goal line for his second touchdown of the day to make the score 19-7. Both teams scored once more in the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt's score came on a one-yard run off right tackle by Charley Horton.
Vanderbilt coach Art Guepe cleared his bench in the final minutes, using 38 of the 39 men dressed for the game. Capitalizing on Auburn's five fumbles and using an ailing quarterback, the Commodores captured its first bowl appearance.