After an upset victory over in-state rivals, the Kentucky Wildcats, Western Kentucky came into Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon riding a wave of momentum. However, that wave came to a screeching halt late in the first quarter.
A record setting effort by the Volunteer defense helped set the tone early and give the Vols their second win of the season Saturday over Western Kentucky 52-20.
After winning the coin toss the Hilltoppers elected to receive and ate up half of the first quarter driving down the field before settling for a 37 yard field goal made by Garrett Schwettman. Their defense backed them up getting the Volunteers offense off the field after just four plays, a far cry from their dominating performance a week ago.
The Hilltoppers took over from their own 1-yard-line and quickly moved the ball out past the 10 getting another first down, but that would be the end of their success for quite some time.
With 4:24 remaining in the first half Tennessee’s defense finally came to life when Justin Coleman took a tipped pass off a Western Kentucky receiver to the endzone, giving the Vols a 7-3 lead. Two plays later WKU quarterback Brandon Daughty tossed another pick six, this time in the direction of Vols true freshmen Cameron Sutton putting Tennessee up 14-3. The Hilltoppers woes wouldn’t end here, though.
The very next play Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews coughed up the ball and the Vols would capitalize again. By the time it was all said and done Tennessee’s defense had taken the ball from the Hilltoppers five times in just six plays and quickly took a 31-3 lead in just four minutes and 46 seconds of game time. Western Kentucky was never able to recover.
The Volunteers defense ended the game with seven turnovers, five interceptions and two fumbles, tying the record as the most turnovers in a single game in Tennessee history. The last time the Vols forced seven turnovers in a single game was in 1984 against Memphis.
While they are 2-0 and off to a nice start in the Butch Jones era the Vols have a tough road ahead as over the next seven weeks they will face five teams ranked in the top 12 as of week two’s ESPN\USA Today Coaches Poll. Three of those games will be on the road beginning Saturday Sept. 14 when they travel to Eugene, Ore. to face the No. 2 ranked Oregon Ducks at 3:30 p.m. eastern time on ABC.