KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee fans and coach Phillip Fulmer
showed their love for Casey Clausen, and the senior quarterback
paid them back with a memorable performance.
Clausen threw three touchdown passes and scored on a sneak in
the No. 9 Volunteers' 48-0 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Mark Jones returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown for the Vols
(9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference), who are trying to stay in
contention for a berth in the league championship and a BCS bowl.
Tennessee's seniors were recognized before the home finale as
they ran one by one through the `T' formed by the band. Clausen
came out last and hugged Fulmer as the crowd stood and cheered.
"I said, 'Love you, Casey,' and he said, 'Love you, Coach.
We've got two more," Fulmer said, recalling their pregame
conversation. "That's Casey Clausen."
The Vols finish the season next week at Kentucky and will go to
The Commodores (2-10, 1-7) finished with a losing record for the
21st season in a row, although they did end their 23-game losing
streak in the SEC last week by beating Kentucky.
They were nowhere close to ending their losing streak against
the Vols, who outgained Vanderbilt 452-191 in total yards and have
now won 21 in a row.
"You witnessed it. They manhandled us, and there wasn't much we
could do," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said.
Clausen, who will finish his career second to only Peyton
Manning in most school statistical categories, hasn't been nearly
as loved by fans as Manning or his other predecessors.
"It was great," Clausen said of his ovation. "They are the
greatest fans in America. That's why I came here."
He gave his detractors little to criticize Saturday.
On the Vols' third drive of the game, Clausen broke Manning's
school record of 132 passes without an interception and pushed the
mark to 143 before Vanderbilt's Bill Alford picked off a pass in
the second quarter.
"I was excited about that," Fulmer said of the record.
"Peyton won't like I said that."
The turnover hardly mattered because Tennessee was already ahead
Chris Hannon caught a 38-yard TD pass from Clausen, who then
scored on a 1-yard sneak before halftime. Jones got an interception
and returned it 51 yards to the Vanderbilt 7 to set up the
James Wilhoit added field goals of 39 and 41 yards.
Vanderbilt crossed midfield for the first time in the fourth
quarter and set up its best chance to avoid a shutout. Tennessee's
Gibril Wilson knocked down two of Jay Cutler's passes, and Antwan
Stewart intercepted Cutler's pass in front of the end zone and
returned it 38 yards to end the threat.
Derrick Tinsley caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Clausen
before the third quarter ended. Clausen finished 15-of-29 for 262
yards and didn't play in the fourth quarter.
The Vols hope to finish in a three-way tie with Georgia and
Florida at the top of the East division. Head-to-head competition
and BCS rankings will break the tie. Tennessee came into the game
ranked seventh in the BCS.
"I've been in this long enough to know it will change," Fulmer
said. "I do believe we are capable of being a BCS football team."