KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Volunteers cut out the
drama and won on short rest.
Gerald Riggs ran for a touchdown and Jonathan Wade returned an
interception for another score to give No. 10 Tennessee a
first-quarter lead, and the Vols held on to beat Mississippi 27-10
The Rebels were hoping to catch Tennessee either tired or too
excited after Monday night's dramatic comeback at LSU, but
Mississippi couldn't muster enough momentum to rebound from
back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Wyoming.
"We had two wins in the SEC in six days. I'm not sure any other
team has done that," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said. "I'm
really happy to get this win behind us."
The Vols host No. 7 Georgia next week.
The Rebels (1-3, 0-2 SEC) lost their 12th straight to Tennessee
in new coach Ed Orgeron's first visit to Neyland Stadium.
The Vols (3-1, 2-1) looked as if they were headed for a rout
after getting a quick 14-0 lead. But the Ole Miss defense stiffened
and held Tennessee to three field-goal attempts the rest of the
first half. James Wilhoit made a 25-yarder, missed a 44-yarder and
had a 51-yarder blocked.
"Just exactly what we needed -- to play at team like Tennessee
to see where we're at talent-wise and scheme-wise and
competition-wise," Orgeron said. "We had improvement on defense,
but we've still got a ways to go on offense."
Tennessee's defense had another strong effort, and the Rebels
didn't score a touchdown until 10:18 to go in the game.
Rick Clausen played the entire game after winning the starting
job from Erik Ainge, the starter at LSU. Clausen engineered the
Vols' comeback from 21 points down to win 30-27 in overtime at
There was little suspense on offense Saturday, and Clausen was
not sharp at times. He finished the first half with six straight
incomplete passes. Clausen was 18-of-35 for 206 yards.
Clausen, who has already had two dislocated fingers and an ankle
injury this season, was hit hard on one play and had ice on his
left (throwing) shoulder after the game.
Riggs scored the Vols' first touchdown with 10:24 to go in the
first quarter after he appeared to be stopped but then bounced
outside to scamper in for the 2-yard score.
Riggs had 125 yards on 26 carries.
"We started off well then leveled off some, but we kept
plugging away," Clausen said.
Micheal Spurlock of Ole Miss started at QB despite a broken
middle finger on his left (non-throwing) hand. He showed some
flashes of excitement with his passing on the run, but he made some
Wade got his touchdown after intercepting Spurlock at the Ole
Miss 19 with 9:46 left in the first quarter. And Spurlock fumbled
late in the fourth quarter, and the Vols recovered it at the Ole
Miss 13. Arian Foster ran 1 yard for a touchdown a few plays later.
Spurlock was 18-of-37 for 200 yards. His favorite target was
Mike Espy, who had 115 yards receiving on a career-high 10 catches.
The only suspense this time for Tennessee fans was whether the
Vols could hang on to win.
"You can't ever give up. They were down last week by 21 points
and they came back," Spurlock said. "We're coming along."
Ole Miss scored its first touchdown on an impressive drive in
the fourth quarter, capped by Mico McSwain's 2-yard run that cut
Tennessee's lead to 10.
Will Moseley, who had missed two field goal attempts past 40
yards coming into the game, nailed a 50-yarder in the first quarter
that cut the lead to 14-3. Wilhoit made a 23-yarder in the third
quarter for Tennessee.
Before the game, Tennessee retired the number of Reggie White.
The star defensive lineman died in December.