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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Casey Clausen threw for 330 yards and tied a school record with five touchdown passes as 13th-ranked Tennessee routed Mississippi State, 59-21, in a Southeastern Conference contest.
Clausen completed 20-of-33 passes in his second 300-yard game of the season as Tennessee (8-2, 4-2) remained in the hunt for first place in the SEC East Division. Florida has completed conference play with a 6-2 mark, while Georgia is 5-2. "I think today was a good game for us," Clausen said. "We wanted to come out and start fast - we've talked about that all year long - and I think today we did that. We came out and executed and when we had opportunities to make plays, we made those plays. I think as a team, this was probably the best game we've played all year. Hopefully we can build on that and get better."
The 6-4 Clausen threw five TDs two previous times, most recently in a 49-28 win over Memphis in November 2001. That year, Clausen threw 22 TD passes, one more than he now has. He and current Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning are the only Volunteers to throw 20 TD passes in two seasons. Clausen has thrown 124 passes without an interception, eight away from Manning's school record. Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt next week before visiting Kentucky on November 29. Jabari Davis carried nine times for 67 yards and a pair of scores for the Volunteers, who have won four straight since getting routed, 41-14, by Georgia on October 11. Clausen gave Tennessee the lead for good, 14-7, with a 12-yard pass to Derrick Tinsley with 2:09 remaining in the opening quarter.
Chris Hannon had four receptions for 69 yards and tied a Tennessee record with three TDs. Nine different Volunteers caught passes, including Mark Jones, who had five receptions for 90 yards. "I've been practicing really hard and when you practice hard, good things come to you," Hannon said. "I didn't even know I was in the record books until someone told me that I had tied a lot of people."
Current New Orleans Saints receiver Donte Stallworth was the last Volunteer with three TD catches in 2001 against Kentucky. The Volunteers have won four of the last five meetings with the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State (2-8, 1-5 SEC West) turned the ball over three times and Kevin Fant was sacked four times. It was the most points allowed by the Bulldogs since a 65-39 setback to South Carolina in October 1995 and the sixth time this season they allowed at least 40 points. Tennessee amassed 535 yards of total offense while limiting Mississippi State to 288. "We gave up some easy touchdowns, some we should have been able to bat down," said Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherill, who is retiring at the end of the season. "Tennessee kept doing what was successful. When you look at them, you see they're trying to throw more instead of run. Casey put the football where had to have it."
The Volunteers had three drives of at least 80 yards, including their opening possession of the second half. Tennessee intercepted Fant twice and also blocked a punt, leading to a one-yard run by Davis for a 42-7 lead 4:14 into the third.