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Tennessee Now Plays Waiting Game

November 29, 1998|From Associated Press

Top-ranked Tennessee did its part by staying undefeated. Now the Volunteers have to wait and see if their performance was good enough to say atop the bowl championship series rankings.

Quarterback Tee Martin threw for a touchdown and ran for another as Tennessee routed Vanderbilt, 41-0, on Saturday at Nashville.

Tennessee improved to 11-0 and ended its Southeastern Conference schedule undefeated (8-0) for the first time since 1967.

The unknown for the Volunteers is how Vanderbilt's poor record (2-9, 1-7) will affect their strength of schedule in the next BCS rankings. Tennessee is competing with UCLA and Kansas State for the Fiesta Bowl berths that will go to the top two BCS teams.

"I don't think we did anything wrong out of here today," said Tennessee receiver Peerless Price, who caught seven passes for 181 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive tackle Darwin Walker said he didn't know how Tennessee could drop after its first shutout victory in 38 games dating to 1995.

"I definitely would think it would be unfair [to drop in the rankings]," he said. "I don't know how they do that BCS thing."

Tennessee, which plays Mississippi State (8-3) in the SEC championship game on Dec. 5, was without injured linebackers Al Wilson and Raynoch Thompson but intercepted four passes and recovered two fumbles which were converted into 24 points.

Although it was a road game for Tennessee, the sellout crowd of 41,600 at Vanderbilt Stadium was dominated by orange-clad Volunteer fans who sang "Rocky Top."

"It seemed like we were in Tennessee's house," said Vanderbilt quarterback Greg Zolman, who completed only 12 of 31 passes for 83 yards.

It was the 16th consecutive loss to Tennessee for Vanderbilt, which had held the Volunteers to 17 points or less in each of the previous three games.

"They're a well-deserving No. 1," Vanderbilt Coach Woody Widenhofer said. "In the four years that I've been here, this is the toughest team they've had."

No. 16 Virginia 36, No. 20 Virginia Tech 32--The Cavaliers (9-2), trailing 29-7 at halftime, rallied to beat the Hokies (8-3) behind Aaron Brooks' three touchdown passes at Blacksburg, Va.

Brooks passed to Ahmad Hawkins for the game's decisive touchdown--a 47-yard play with 2:01 remaining. Hawkins' only catch of the game capped a 93-yard, six-play Virginia drive.

Brooks, a senior, completed 19 of 32 passes for 345 yards. Last year, he passed for a school-record 390 yards and four touchdowns in Virginia's 34-20 victory over Virginia Tech.

The comeback was the biggest in Virginia history, surpassing a rally from 21-3 down against Duke in 1995.

No. 23 Penn State 51, Michigan State 28--Eric McCoo rushed for 206 yards, and David Macklin and Anthony King returned interceptions for touchdowns at State College, Pa., as the Nittany Lions (8-3, 5-3 in the Big Ten) avenged a lopsided defeat to the Spartans (6-6, 4-4) last year.

Michigan State had two 200-yard rushers in beating Penn State, 49-14, last year. One of those players, Sedric Irvin, was held to 76 yards.

Travis Forney kicked a career-high five field goals for Penn State, which finished its home schedule unbeaten (6-0) for the first time since 1994.

The Nittany Lions, who have not allowed a player to rush for 100 yards this season, also had seven sacks to bring their total to a Big Ten-leading and school-record 47. Courtney Brown had two sacks to bring his total to 11 1/2.

Michigan 48, Hawaii 17--Anthony Thomas scored four touchdowns, the final one on an 80-yard run in the fourth quarter, to lead the Wolverines at Honolulu.

The Wolverines (9-3, 7-1 in the Big Ten) kept their hopes of landing a good bowl berth intact, and extended the Rainbows' losing streak to 18 games, the longest in the nation. Hawaii's 0-12 record also matches college football's worst single-season mark, by Colorado State in 1981.

North Carolina 37, North Carolina State 34--The Tar Heels (6-5, 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) blew two 21-point leads and fell behind by three in overtime before beating the Wolfpack (7-4, 5-3) at Charlotte, N.C. on Oscar Davenport's 14-yard touchdown pass to Na Brown.

Brown's catch over Lloyd Harrison, who leads the nation in interceptions, assured North Carolina its ninth consecutive non-losing season.

Southern 26, Grambling State 14--Grambling Coach Doug Williams finished his first season as the successor to Eddie Robinson with a 5-6 record as Sam George threw three touchdown passes at New Orleans for the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Jaguars (8-3).

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