Outback Bowl: Tennessee Wins Another Close One

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Outback Bowl: Tennessee Wins Another Close One
After a poor first series, Tennessee looked to be on their heels as Wisconsin moved into Vol territory.  But after forcing a fumble on Wisconsin senior wide receiver Paul Hubbard, momentum was squarely on the Vols’ side. 

A 40-yard pickup from Erik Ainge to Denarius Moore and some big time running from Arian Foster, and the Vols were quickly up 7-0 at the ten minute mark after Gerald Jones bulldozed his way in from four yards out. 

The next thing you knew, though, Wisconsin was in the endzone themselves, as Tyler Donovan scampered to the house on a big third and goal, tying it up at 7-7.

Tennessee was driving again on the next series, but an odd fumblerooski-type of play call—a play that was used a day earlier in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl—led to a fumble, and Wisconsin took over at their own 15. 

From there, scoring leveled off, as both teams had trouble moving the ball.

Midway through the second quarter, the Vols struck again, as Ainge connected with Jonathan Brisco on a gorgeous 29-yard TD pass to put Tennessee up 14-7.    

Bad luck hit the Badgers on their next possession, as Tyler Donovan went down with what looked like a terrible knee injury.  Things went downhill for the Badgers from there, as their drive went backwards, and they were forced to punt from their own 15-yard line. 

The Vols pounced on the opportunity, putting together an 80-yard drive in a little over two minutes.  Tight end Brad Cottam scored his first TD of the season on another nice pass from Ainge.  The Vols went up 21-7, and looked to be in control of the game.   

But a hobbling Donovan returned, and so did the Badger offense.  A well-executed touchdown drive put Wisconsin down only 21-14 at the half. 

The second half featured several defensive stands, as both teams struggled to get their offenses going.  A Wisconsin field goal late in the third quarter brought the score to 21-17.  The game was scoreless the rest of the way, with both teams slugging it out until the final minute. 

With less than five minutes left, Wisconsin had a chance to take the lead, but the much maligned Tennessee defense came up big, halting Wisconsin at the 10, including a stop on fourth and one. 

From there, the Vols’ experience in close games paid off, as they were able to chew valuable time off the clock, leaving Wisconsin 1:25 to go 87 yards with zero timeouts.  The Badgers made a run at it, but fell short after an interception in the end zone iced the game.

Senior Erik Ainge ended his career with an MVP performance, putting up 365 yards and two TDs, despite missing two of his key receivers due to suspensions. 

As for Tennessee, the gutty win puts them at the magical 10 win mark for the season.  Not bad for a team that started 1-2. 

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