Despite a hot start the Tennessee Volunteers dropped their third straight game of the season, and sixth straight to Auburn since 2003.
The Vols were able to strike first blood on a 39-yard field goal by Michael Palardy, but after later taking a 13-6 lead on a Raijon Neal score were outscored 49-10 as the Tigers proceeded to rout the Vols in Knoxville, Tenn.
Behind a strong rushing effort from the duo of Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, Auburn advanced to 9-1 on the season (4-1 in SEC) with a 55-23 victory Saturday over Tennessee in Neyland Stadium.
What’s been a very up and down campaign for this 2013 Tennessee football team, Saturday was another downer for them.
The Vols have struggled against running quarterbacks all season, and that was no different against Auburn. Marshall was able to gash the Tennessee defense for 214 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. He averaged 15.3 yards per rush against the SEC’s worst defense on Saturday afternoon.
Mason added 117 yards to the Tigers fierce rushing attack and three touchdowns. Altogether the Vols defense gave up 444 yards on the ground, the most they’ve given up in a single game this season.
The Vols started strong. They were able to keep pace with the Tigers fast-paced offense and took a touchdown lead off a 17-yard-run by Neal, who finished the day with 124 yards rushing. However, Auburn responded with a quick two-play, 75-yard-drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown run by Mason, which was setup by Marshall’s 62-yard run.
From there the Tigers took control. After Marshall had his only hiccup of the game, throwing an interception for a touchdown to Tennessee defensive end Jacques Smith, it was all Auburn until the final whistle.
Tennessee’s defense allowed Auburn to score three times in just two plays, but it wasn’t just the defense that gave up the big plays. The Vols special teams, which head coach Butch Jones coaches himself, gave up two touchdowns themselves. One of Auburn’s returns for a touchdown came after the returner, Chris Davis, muffed fielding the punt at his own 15 yard-line.
For Auburn, they have just two games remaining. If they win out they will win the SEC Western division. As for the Vols, with two games remaining they must win both to become bowl eligible.
After playing five straight opponents ranked in the top 11 Tennessee will receive a much needed bye week before finishing up their 2013 season at home against Vanderbilt, and on the road against Kentucky.