12:30 PM ET, October 1, 2005
Neyland Stadium, KNOXVILLE, TN
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 on Saturday.
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 Baton Rouge.
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 mistakes.
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.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... After James Wilhoit's second FG of the second quarter, which gave the Vols the 20-3 lead. The Tennessee defense would take it from there.
Gameball goes to... The Vols defense. Not only did Jonathan Wade return a pick for a score, the Vols held the Rebels to just 50 yards rushing and 250 total yards.
Stat of the game... 12: The Vols have won 12 straight over Ole Miss.
The Fan Pick
99.3% of College Pick'em players picked Tennessee to win the game.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-13||9-18|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-3|
|TD||10:24||GERALD RIGGS JR. 2 YD RUN (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 56 yards.
|TD||9:46||JONATHAN WADE 19 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)||0||14|
|FG||5:09||WILL MOSELEY 50 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 52 yards.
|FG||9:33||JAMES WILHOIT II 25 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 46 yards.
|FG||5:32||JAMES WILHOIT II 23 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||10:18||MICO MCSWAIN 2 YD RUN (ROBERT BASS KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 64 yards.
|TD||2:08||ARIAN FOSTER 1 YD RUN (JAMES WILHOIT II KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 14 yards.