By Brian Rice UTSports.com
Each week, UTSports.com takes a look at the numbers from the weekend past and the weekend ahead in Four Downs. This week, aerial assaults, more third quarter positives and a return to the national spotlight.
First Down: 3 - Justin Hunter TD Catches
Three touchdown catches for Hunter tied a Tennessee record, shared by seven other players that had achieved the mark on eight other occasions. The last player to catch three touchdowns in a game was Chris Hannon, who hauled in three against Mississippi State in Neyland Stadium in 2003.The only player to it twice at Tennessee is Donte' Stallworth, who caught three TDs against Memphis and Kentucky in 2001. Against the Wildcats, Stallworth caught eight total passes, the same number that Hunter hauled in on Saturday. Every pass Hunter caught on Saturday went for either a first down or touchdown, and all eight receptions came on first down. His fifth catch was the shortest at 11 yards. Hunter caught Tyler Bray's final two passes of the afternoon, a pair of 19-yard grabs that bookended Rajion Neal and Cordarrelle Patterson runs on a four-play, 62-yard drive that covered 1:18 and gave UT a 41-6 lead after a Michael Palardy PAT. One final stat: With the three TD catches, Hunter surpassed his season total of two from an injury-shortened 2011.
Second Down: 13 - Consecutive Completions for Tyler Bray
Bray finished Saturday 18 of 20 for 310 yards and four touchdowns. Bray misfired on the game's opening play, but completed four straight to complete the opening drive, capped by a 22-yard pass to Mychal Rivera that set up Neal's 1-yard TD run. On the second Tennessee possession, Bray's third-down pass intended for Patterson fell incomplete, but that would be his last miss on the day.
Starting with his next pass, Bray operated with surgical precision, going a perfect 9-for-9 in the second quarter. He stayed in long enough in the third quarter to complete four more passes, finishing with 13 consecutive completions to four receivers.
The 13 straight completions ties Bray for third all-time at Tennessee, a mark he now shares with Casey Clausen and Jeff Francis, who served as the color commentator for the Vol Network's Pay-per-view broadcast of the game.
Ahead of Bray on the consecutive completions chart are Erik Ainge, who completed 15 in a row against Air Force in 2006 and Tee Martin, who had a then-NCAA record 24 consecutive completions at South Carolina in 1998.
Third Down: Quick Hits
13, 0 - Points scored and allowed by UT, respectfully, in the third quarter. As discussed last week in this space, the third quarter struggles of 2011 on both offense and defense have been reversed thus far in 2012. UT has outscored opponents 23-0 in the two games this season.
558 - Yards of total offense for Tennessee. After piling up 524 yards a week ago, UT had its first back-to-back 500+ yard performances since wins over Arkansas and Kentucky in 2000.
18 - Consecutive home openers won by Tennessee, a run that started in 1995.
9 - True freshmen that appeared in the game. UT played just two a week earlier.
65 - Players used against Georgia State. Just 47 Vols saw the field a week earlier against NC State.
2 - Rushing touchdowns by Neal, the first multi-score performance of his career.
Fourth Down: A Look Ahead
23 - Tennessee's rank in the Associated Press poll released Sunday. Prior to this week's ranking, the Vols last were ranked in the 2008 preseason poll. The gap represented the longest time UT had spent outside of the AP poll since a five-year spell from November 1979-September 1985.
8 - Appearances of ESPN's College Gameday at Tennessee when the show fires up on Saturday morning ahead of Tennessee-Florida. The show was last in town for Tennessee-Auburn in 2004.
7 - Consecutive wins in the series by the Gators, a streak the Vols will look to break on Saturday. The last Tennessee victory was in Neyland Stadium in 2004, as James Wilhoit nailed a 50-yard field goal with 0:06 remaining. Wilhoit had missed a game-tying extra point minutes earlier.
3-0 - The Vols are looking for their first 3-0 start since 2004, when UT downed UNLV, Florida and Louisiana Tech before falling to Auburn a week later.