Tennessee 24

(7-4, 4-3 SEC)

Vanderbilt 0

(2-10, 0-8 SEC)

12:30 PM ET, November 23, 2002

Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN

1 2 3 4 T
TENN 9 9 3 324
VAN 0 0 0 00

Vols' rocky year a bit brighter with rivalry win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Cedric Houston ran for 140 yards and a touchdown as Tennessee relied on its ground game to beat instate rival Vanderbilt 24-0 Saturday.

It was the 20th consecutive time Tennessee (7-4,4-3 SEC) defeated Vanderbilt (2-10, 0-8).

Casey Clausen returned to the starting lineup after missing the Vols' win over Mississippi State last week with an ankle injury and finished 12-of-22 for 120 yards.

Houston ran for 96 yards in the first half. He scored early in the second quarter after finding a hole and breaking through the middle for a 3-yard TD run to put Tennessee up 15-0.

The Vols ran 50 times for 242 yards, including a 1-yard TD run by Jabari Davis. Tennessee outgained Vanderbilt 371-196 in total offense.

The win puts Tennessee one game closer to a possible New Year's Day bowl berth. The Vols finish the regular season next week when they host Kentucky.

It's been a tough year for Tennessee, which began the season ranked No. 4 in the AP Top 25. But injuries and offensive struggles led to losses to Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Miami.

Tennessee played Saturday without safety Rashad Baker, who tore an ACL against Mississippi State and is out for the remainder of the season. He is the 16th Tennessee starter to miss at least one game with injury.

Vanderbilt has lost 17 straight SEC games and 26 of 27.

The Commodores' offense was sluggish early, going three-and-out on two of their first three possessions. On their third possession, punter Greg Johnson fumbled the snap in the end zone and fell on the ball for a safety that put Tennessee up 9-0.

Vanderbilt could not gain momentum, so Benji Walker replaced starting quarterback Jay Cutler, but it didn't help.

Alex Walls also kicked three field goals for the Vols.