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A couple of bumps in road spoil Vols' plans for repeat of title

By Gary Lundy, News-Sentinel sportswriter
January 2, 2000

Tennessee's football season began with high hopes and talk of winning a second consecutive national title, but road losses to Florida and Arkansas left the Vols with a 9-2 record and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl.

UT remained tough at home, stretching its winning streak to 22 games at Neyland Stadium.

Here is a game-by-game look back at the regular season:

UT 42, WYOMING 17: The Vols had 13 sacks and tackled Wyoming's ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage 25 times as the Vols extended their winning streak to 14.

Jamal Lewis had 25 carries for 159 yards. Cedrick Wilson caught seven passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

FLORIDA 23, UT 21: The Vols were unable to protect Tee Martin and had 15 penalties for 112 yards at The Swamp.

Martin, under heavy pressure all night, threw 39 passes, seven more than he had ever thrown in a college game.

UT had only one turnover to Florida's five, disproving the axiom that the team that makes the fewest mistakes is the key to victory in this series.

UT 17, MEMPHIS 16: With 3:20 remaining, UT trailed 16-10 and had the ball at its 22. Martin led the Vols on a 78-yard scoring drive, hitting Wilson with a 15-yard touchdown pass with one minute left. Key play in the drive was a 53-yard bomb to Bobby Graham.

The crowd booed repeatedly at UT's lackluster performance.

"I'd have booed, too," coach Phillip Fulmer said. "It was awful."

UT 24, AUBURN 0: Deon Grant intercepted a pass on the game's first play, returned it for a touchdown, and the rout was on. Grant had three interceptions, the first UT player since 1988 to pick off that many passes in a game.

Wilson had six catches for 112 yards. Martin passed for 220 yards. Auburn was held to 75 yards rushing.

UT 37, GEORGIA 20: The Vols won for the ninth consecutive time against the Bulldogs.

Georgia came out before the game and danced on the "T" in the middle of the field at Neyland Stadium, which angered UT's players. The Vols used that as motivation and by halftime built a 28-7 lead.

Leonard Scott had UT's only TD in the second half, returning a kickoff 100 yards.

UT 21, ALABAMA 7: The series returned to Alabama's campus, but UT's defense was dominant and held Shaun Alexander to 98 yards rushing. The Vols had a season-low four penalties.

Tee Martin ran for two TDs and passed for a third. Lewis gained 117 yards for UT, the first time he went over the century mark since the season opener.

UT 30, SOUTH CAROLINA 7: Lewis had 146 yards rushing as the Vols dominated the Gamecocks, who would finish the season 0-11.

Alex Walls hit field goals of 47 and 51 yards. Donté Stallworth had 130 receiving yards. Grant led the defense with nine hits and broke up two passes.

UT 38, NOTRE DAME 14: The Vols won their 21st consecutive non-conference home game in impressive fashion.

Martin passed for three touchdowns. Travis Henry rushed for 132 yards. Fred White and Dominique Stevenson led the defense with 10 tackles each.

ARKANSAS 28, UT 24: Just like last year, the score was 28-24, but this time the Vols were on the losing end.

Martin led UT to the Arkansas 17 late in the fourth quarter, but the drive stalled and the Vols' hopes died when a pass intended for Wilson fell incomplete.

UT's defense had no sacks and only two minus-yardage tackles.

UT 56, KENTUCKY 21: The Vols scored more than 50 points against the Wildcats for the fourth consecutive season.

It was 27-0 early in the second quarter. Henry rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Newcomer Onterrio Smith had a career-best 82 yards rushing.

UT 38, VANDERBILT 10: The Vols easily won their final game of the 20th Century, piling up 476 yards total offense.

It was UT's 17th consecutive victory over the Commodores. However, what many fans will remember about the afternoon was a scary moment during the second quarter.

Henry dove over the line, landed on his head and the crowd of 105,781 grew eerily quiet. The UT tailback was down on the field 15 minutes, and was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a spinal cord contusion and mild concussion. He was released the following day. Henry had 153 yards rushing on 19 carries before he was injured.

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