Dec. 22, 2011
1955 Gator Bowl | 1974 Peach Bowl
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.
1982 Hall of Fame Bowl
Air Force 36
Dec. 31, 1982 Birmingham Legion Field
Final Stats (PDF) | Highlights | CHC: VU plays in Hall of Fame Bowl
Fact Book Recap (PDF)
Q&A with Quarterback Whit Taylor
Taylor broke seven Hall of Fame Bowl records and was named MVP of the game after passing for 452 yards. Taylor resides in Shelbyville, Tenn., where he is an assistant principal and athletic director at Shelbyville High School.
What do you remember most about that 1982 season?
The whole year was a memory. Being able to win eight games in a year still is a special thing to me and I'm sure it is to the rest of the guys on the team. But just the memory and thrill of getting to go to the bowl game is probably the biggest thing that I can remember.
What was it like to play in a game with such contrasting offensive styles?
We would score in two minutes and then they would take it and run the wishbone, and they would score in 12 minutes. We couldn't stop them and they couldn't stop us. It was a great game to watch offensive wise. We put up a lot of numbers. Norman Jordan had 20 catches in the game.
From my perspective, I wish that I had a rubber band on three balls that I threw. I could remember when they left my hand I said, 'I shouldn't have thrown those.' They led to interceptions.
How was the team's offense so successful that season?
We were doing some things that really nobody was doing. We were throwing all over the yard 40 or 50 times. It was a West Coast Offense before that became a popular term.
There were a lot of things that went into it. We had a lot of guys who could catch the ball. We really didn't throw it down the field because we didn't have anybody that would run off and leave anybody. We had a bunch of really smart guys that figured out some things and got open.
A lot of people also forget about our defense. They were pretty good that year. Everybody remembers the offense and the numbers I had, but it was far from a one-man show.
What was the overall bowl experience like?
It was big time. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel that someone wants you in their city for a week. They felt like we were good enough to be there and deserved to be there. It was just special to me. Those things altogether made it a special week.
Going to a bowl game is a great experience. You are one of X number of teams that get invited to a bowl game and it just rewards what you have done during the season. For Coach Franklin and those guys, I know they are going to enjoy the week and it will be something those guys will always remember.
Are you excited about the progress of the program?
Absolutely. I have no doubt that it starts at the top with Coach Franklin. His confidence has rubbed off on the players and they've played with the confidence that he exudes. Just listening to him, that is what he expects and he isn't going to take any less than that.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Without question, the Hall of Fame Bowl was one of college football's most exciting 1982 postseason games.
The game matched one of the nation's most potent aerial attacks featuring Vanderbilt All-SEC quarterback Whit Taylor and one of America's most devastating rushing attacks in the Falcons' vaunted option attack.
Offensively, this game lived up to the hype as 33 Hall of Fame records were broken and another eight were tied in Legion Field. Unfortunately for the Commodores, Air Force walked away the winner 36-28 after a remarkable fourth quarter comeback.
For three quarters, Whit Taylor was unstoppable. Connecting with a variety of wide receivers and running backs, Taylor's fourth touchdown pass of the game, a four-yarder to Norman Jordan, gave the Commodores a 28-17 margin entering the fourth quarter. Down by double digits, the Air Force Academy scored rushing touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to take the victory.
Taylor was named the Most Valuable Player, after completing a team-record 38 passes of 51 attempts for 452 yards, which remains as the second highest single-game passing yardage total in Vanderbilt history. Jordan's performance arguably was more remarkable. Though rushing for just four yards, Jordan hauled in 20 receptions for 173 yards and three touchdowns, breaking five Hall of Fame Bowl records.