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SOUTHEASTERN

Auburn Plays Hardball, Defeats Tennessee

October 05, 2003|From Associated Press

Carnell Williams and the Auburn Tigers made a big physical statement to Tennessee -- and the rest of the Southeastern Conference.

Williams ran for 185 yards and the host Tigers made a late defensive stand to beat No. 7 Tennessee, 28-21, Saturday night, proving that their preseason No. 6 ranking wasn't such an absurdity.

"They were talking all week about them being so physical and us being so soft," Auburn linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "We just came up and hit them in the mouth."

Especially Williams, a preseason All-SEC pick who had his first 100-yard effort of the season with a tireless 36 carries and made two key receptions for first downs.

"From here on out, I think we're going to show the country we are one of the best teams in the country," said Williams, who originally committed to play for the Volunteers.

Jason Campbell had two touchdown passes for Auburn (3-2, 2-0 SEC).

The Tigers finally showcased their heralded tailbacks in a marquee game with their third straight lopsided victory after an 0-2 start that dropped them out of the rankings. Auburn amassed 264 yards rushing, the most allowed by the Volunteers since Kansas State gained 297 in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 2001.

The Volunteers (4-1, 2-1) abandoned their own star tailbacks Jabari Davis and Cedric Houston from the outset, trying to ride Casey Clausen's passing to victory. The result was an anemic running game that netted four yards in 16 carries, 184 yards below their season average.

Mississippi 20, No. 24 Florida 17 -- The Ron Zook experiment at Florida endured another harsh blow, this time from the Rebels and Eli Manning, who finally got his family into the win column at Gainesville, Fla.

Manning directed a late 50-yard touchdown drive to lift the Rebels past the Gators. It gave the Manning family the win at Florida that Eli's older brother, Peyton, could never get, while dropping Zook to 11-8 since he replaced Steve Spurrier as Florida's coach at the start of last season.

Manning finished 17 for 29 for 262 yards.

The Gators (3-3, 1-2) lost consecutive games at home for the first time since 1988-89, and were shut out in the second half for the second straight year by Ole Miss (3-2, 2-0).

"We're embarrassed," said tailback Ran Carthon, who called a players-only meeting for Monday. "We're 3-3 and no one knows what that feels like around here."

Mississippi State 30, Vanderbilt 21 -- Jerious Norwood ran for 113 yards and his first career touchdown and Justin Jenkins had 118 yards receiving at Starkville, Miss., to help the Bulldogs (1-4, 1-1) stop a nine-game conference losing streak.

Vanderbilt (1-5, 0-3) has lost 20 straight SEC games and 24 of its last 26 against Division I-A opponents.

No. 11 Georgia 37, Alabama 23 -- The Bulldogs scored 37 points by halftime -- the most Alabama has given up in a half in the modern era -- then hung on for a sloppy victory over the Crimson Tide at Athens, Ga.

Leading, 37-10, at halftime, the Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1) already had put up more points on Alabama (2-4, 1-2) than they had scored in any of the previous 62 games between the schools.

Georgia rebounded from a loss at Louisiana State two weeks ago with a huge first half, piling up 297 yards.

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