TAMPA (Jan. 1, 2008) - Erik Ainge ensured No. 16 Tennessee wouldn't leave the Outback Bowl with another disappointing loss.
Capping a rollercoaster career, the Volunteers star threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns Tuesday to pace a 21-17 victory that stopped No. 18 Wisconsin from joining Michigan as the only Big Ten teams to beat Southeastern Conference opponents in bowl games three consecutive seasons.
A month after having an interception returned for the winning score in a 21-14 loss to LSU in the SEC championship game, Ainge completed 25 of 43 passes without a turnover to win MVP honors and help the Vols (10-4) erase unpleasant memories of a 10-point loss to Penn State in last year's Outback game.
Antonio Wardlow sealed Tennessee's first 10-win season since 2004 when he intercepted Tyler Donovan's deep throw intended for Paul Hubbard in the end zone in the final minute. The Vols also ended another fourth-quarter drive by stopping Wisconsin on downs at the Tennessee 10.
Receiver Gerald Jones took a direct snap from center and scored on a 3-yard run, then Ainge tossed TD passes of 29 yards to Josh Briscoe and 31 yards to Brad Cottam to help Tennessee build a 21-7 lead.
Donovan's 4-yard TD throw to Andy Crooks trimmed Wisconsin's deficit to 21-14 at the half, then pulled within four points on Taylor Mehlhaff's 27-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
TENN - Gerald Jones 3 yd run (Daniel Lincoln kick)