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LEXINGTON, Kentucky-- Tennessee made its case for a berth in the Southeastern Conference title game, even if it may not be enough.
Casey Clausen threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Mark Jones in the third quarter and the eighth-ranked Volunteers went on to a 20-7 Southeastern Conference victory over Kentucky. The Volunteers (10-2) won their sixth straight game and forged a three-way tie for the SEC East Division title with Georgia and Florida. All three teams finished conference play at 6-2, but the tiebreakers likely favor Georgia. The new tiebreaker adopted by the SEC is ranking in the BCS standings, unless two teams are within five spots, in which case the head-to-head meeting will be the determining factor. The deciding factor likely will be the head-to-head meeting between Georgia and Tennessee, which was won by the Bulldogs, 41-14.
"We're 10-2 and we're looking forward to whatever comes next," said Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, whose defense allowed just 187 yards. Clausen completed just 11-of-27 passes for 110 yards, but his TD pass to Jones 90 seconds into the third quarter put the Volunteers ahead to stay, 10-7.
"Coming into the game we knew it was going to be tough and we couldn't look past them," Jones said. "Kentucky gave us their all and we had to suck it up and play a 60-minute game."
James Wilhoit added a 47-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and Cedric Houston iced the game with a 10-yard touchdown run with 1:27 left. Houston had 12 carries for 87 yards.
Kentucky (4-8, 1-7) lost its 18th straight game to the Volunteers and closed its first season under coach Rich Brooks with a four-game losing streak. "The good news to me is that we're competitive, the bad news is that we haven't been able to win any of those close games," Brooks said. "I am more determined than ever to hit the recruiting trail tomorrow and get this thing going forward."
Arliss Beach scored the Kentucky touchdown on a one-yard run in the first quarter. Jared Lorenzen, a senior playing in his final college game, completed just 17-of-39 passes for 121 yards. He finished his career with 10,354 passing yards, the fourth-highest total in SEC history. His 862 career completions is second in the SEC, one behind Peyton Manning of Tennessee.