No. 9 Vols crushed Vanderbilt in the rain for 10th win

2 hours ago
Associated press

NASHVILLE, TN — Josh Heupel entered a whorehouse in Tennessee with players vying for the transfer portal after the university fired the former coach and nine others in January 2021.

Now Heupel and his Vols may indicate a very quick turnaround with the promise of much more to come.

Jaylen Wright rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns on five carries, with Little Jabari chasing for two more scores as ninth-seeded Tennessee never trailed in routing in-state rival Vanderbilt 56-0 on a rainy Saturday night.

The Volunteers (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from losing two of their last three games to clinch their first 10-win regular season since 2003 in Heupel’s second season, and first overall since 2007. The losses dropped the Vols from first in inaugural college football playoff standings at the 10th.

Heupel noted that more than 30 players left Tennessee when he arrived, and the coach applauded the group for choosing to stay and go with what he and his team wanted. Volunteers remain “far from perfect” at this time.

“We turned this program in the right direction,” Heupel said. “The future is bright.”

Tennessee earned its fourth straight win, and there was never any doubt about that as the Vols led 21-0 at halftime and added 21 more in third for their first shutout in this rivalry since a victory of 48-0 in 2003.

Wright scored on runs for 50 and 83 yards, while Small ran for 48 yards. Dylan Samson added an 80-yard rush on the fourth as Tennessee ran for six touchdowns. It was the first time Tennessee had two TD carries of 80 or more yards in the same game.

“When I saw the hole, I just hit it,” Wright said.

The Vols rushed for more yards (362) than Vanderbilt rushed on total offense (254).

Vanderbilt (5-7, 2-6) was unable to become bowl eligible in coach Clark Lea’s second season. The Commodores saw their two-game winning streak snapped with the SEC. That streak ended a 26-game league skid that began in 2019. They also more than doubled their tally of two wins from last year.

“We’re disappointed right now, and tonight was painful,” Lea said. “I hurt for our team. I hurt for our fans. I hurt for our program to make the progress we made, we wanted the chance to extend our season. We failed.”

Joe Milton got his first start of the season and third since moving from Michigan last year, replacing Hendon Hookerwho rooted to his roommate from the sideline despite the tears his left ACL last week. Milton had his first three passes, including one 61 yards to Jalin Hyatt to set up Small’s first TD on a 3-yard TD run.

“When he got hurt and fell, it was really fair to him,” Milton said of Hooker.

Milton finished with 147 yards passing for his maximum at Tennessee with his only 7-yard touchdown at Merrill walker In the third.

Dee Williams returned a 73-yard punt to put Tennessee up 21-0 midway through the second quarter, grabbing his left hamstring after crossing the goal line before dancing in celebration.


Tennessee: The Vols have become the nation’s leading offense in yards and points. With the rain, they showed they could score as fast on the ground as they did in the air with four touchdowns from 48 yards or more. Five TD drives took 55 seconds or less with the longest of those on the game’s first possession.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores started mike wright, which led them to wins over Kentucky and Florida. But he struggled to throw against a Tennessee defense that gave up 453 passing yards last week. First-year student AJ Swann, who missed those games with an unspecified injury, took over in the third and threw for 79 yards but was incomplete on a fourth throw in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Lea said Wright came back late to help protect Swann.


Milton’s muscular arm was on display all night. He had chances to increase the Volunteers further. He knocked down several open receivers, including at least three that would have been touchdowns.


Tennessee is waiting and hoping for a spot in the Sugar or Orange Bowl.

Vanderbilt begins work on finalizing Lea’s next recruiting class after more than doubling last year’s two-win total.

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