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Four Downs: Weekend By The Numbers

Oct. 7, 2012

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, more that you wanted to know about bye weeks, staying up late with the Vols on ESPN2 and a few numbers that show the progress in 2012.

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First Down: Bye Week Numbers of Note

In games that follow a bye week, Tennessee is 78-39-9 all-time, 40-25-2 against teams from the Southeastern Conference.

The Vols have never faced Mississippi State following an open date. This week's game will leave Arkansas and the two SEC newcomers, Texas A&M and Missouri, as the only three conference foes that UT has not faced after a bye.

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley is 1-1 after the open date, with a win over Buffalo last season and a loss to Alabama in 2010.

Alabama is the most common opponent faced after a bye, with a total of 16 meetings.

Philip Fulmer was the winningest coach by total victories after an open date with a 25-8 record. General Robert Neyland, Doug Dickey and Jim McDonald each went undefeated in their Tennessee careers after the bye, the General was 10-0-3, while Dickey was 8-0 and McDonald 1-0.

Three Vol coaches went winless after bye weeks, George Levene, W. H. Britton and Lane Kiffin were all 0-1 following an open date.

Dooley gave the players a 48 hour pass from a conditioning session of Friday morning to a team meeting on Sunday as the Vols get ready for the trip to Starkville.

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Second Down: 9 - PM, Start Time for UT-MSU

Vol fans are in for a late one Saturday night as the Vols travel to Mississippi State, as UT will play its first game at 9:00 p.m. ET since 2004. The last time Tennessee kicked off a game that late was also in the state of Mississippi and also on ESPN2. The Vols defeated Ole Miss, 21-17, on Oct. 16, 2004 in Oxford.

The Vols are 14-9 all-time on ESPN2. UT won its first 10 games played on ESPN2, a streak that stretched from 1997-2003. The first appearances were in 1997 in back-to-back weeks at Arkansas and at Kentucky. UT's first loss was in 2003 at home against Georgia.

Tennessee will look to stop a four-game losing streak in ESPN2 games. After defeating Cincinnati on ESPN2 in the 2011 season's second week, the Vols dropped games against Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Arkansas.

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Third Down: Quick Hits - The Season So Far

39.4 - Points per game scored by Tennessee, nearly double the 20.3 the Vols averaged in 2011.

460 - Rushing yards for Rajion Neal, Tennessee's leading rusher. Entering the 2012 season, Neal's career total was 331. He is 233 yards away from Tauren Poole's team-leading 693 from a season ago. With an average of 92.0 yards per game, Neal is on pace to rush for more yards in 2012 than the entire team did in 2011.

10 - Rushing touchdowns for the Vols, led by Neal's four and A.J. Johnson's three. The total is one off of the 11 that UT ran for in all of 2011.

249 - Receiving yards for Zach Rogers, who has already surpassed his total of 189 for 2011.

14 - Tyler Bray touchdown passes. Bray needs just three more TDs to eclipse his total from 2011, four more to pass the UT team total from last season.

9 - Interceptions for the Tennessee defense, led by Byron Moore's four. The Vols picked off nine passes all of 2011. Moore's four picks are the most in a season since Janzen Jackson and Prentiss Waggner each intercepted five passes in 2010.

5 - Players, Tyler Bray, Justin King, Justin Worley, A.J. Johnson, Alton Howard (in order of appearance), that have taken snaps from center this season. Bray and Worley took snaps in their usual roles as starting and backup quarterback, King, Johnson and Howard as signal-callers in UT's wildcat package.

3 - Sacks given up by the Tennessee offensive line on the season.

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Fourth Down - A Look Ahead

6 - Consecutive victories over Mississippi State, the longest active streak for UT over an SEC opponent. The last MSU win was in 1994, 24-21, in Starkville. Over the six wins, the Vols have outscored the Bulldogs 237-90.

24.3 - Average margin of victory over the six-game winning streak. Three of the wins have been by 30+ points, 38-point wins in 1995 and 2003, and a 31-point victory in 2008.

5 - Consecutive wins by Mississippi State to start the season, the best record for the Bulldogs through five games since Jackie Sherrill's 1999 squad opened up 8-0 a season after meeting Tennessee in the 1998 SEC Championship game.

28 - Total wins against the Bulldogs in series history. Tennessee is 28-15-1 against Mississippi State, 5-4-1 in Starkville. Five of the 10 meetings in Starkville have taken place since 1987, with Tennessee having won four of those. From 1921-1979, the majority of MSU's "home" games against UT were played in Memphis, where the Vols were 9-4-1 against the Bulldogs.

 

 

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