Vols’ 59-14 rout is worst varsity loss since 1910
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — All Tennessee coach Butch Jones could do was purse his lips when Oregon scored yet another touchdown on the Volunteers and the Ducks’ fans taunted the team with chants of “S-E-C! S-E-C!”
When it was over, No. 2 Oregon beat the Vols 59-14, their biggest varsity loss since 1910.
“It’s going to take perseverance, it’s going to take resilience,” said Jones, in his first season with the Vols. “We have to learn from this and move forward.”
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for a career-high 456 yards with four touchdowns, becoming the first Oregon quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards in a game since Kellen Clemens in 2005. The sophomore quarterback’s yardage ties for the third-most in a game in school history.
Justin Worley completed 13 of 25 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown for the Volunteers, who opened the season with easy wins over Austin Peay and Western Kentucky.
But Tennessee could not keep up with the speedy Ducks, who had 687 yards in total offense compared to 316 for the Vols.
Oregon was the first of a tough stretch for the Volunteers: No. 18 Florida, No. 9 Georgia, No. 13 South Carolina and No. 1 Alabama are among Tennessee’s next five opponents.
Running back Rajion Neal echoed Jones in saying that the Vols had to put this loss behind them. Quickly.
“Take the criticism, take the coaching, watch the film, learn from it and move on,” Neal said.
The Vols went up 7-0 early when Tennessee drove 80 yards in six plays and scored on Worley’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Jason Croom.
By after a 38-yard field goal by Matt Wogan, Oregon pulled in front 10-7 on Mariota’s 16-yard pass to freshman tight end Johnny Mundt. Mariota extended the lead with a 9-yard TD run before hitting Josh Huff with a 54-yard scoring pass.
De’Anthony Thomas added a 28-yard scoring run for the Ducks before halftime. Tennessee defensive lineman Trevarris Saulsberry was helped from the field following the TD, but it was unclear how he was hurt.
Mariota found Mundt again with a 17-yard scoring pass early in the second half, before Byron Marshall ran 11 yards for a touchdown to make it 52-7 and Oregon pulled most of its starters. Freshman Thomas Tyner ran for a 2-yard score to close out the third quarter.
Alden Hill’s 8-yard touchdown run for Tennessee provided the final margin.
“I think they are very deserving of where they’re ranked. I think they’re very well deserving of all the accolades that they’ve received,” Jones said. “They have tremendous, tremendous skill. Anytime you have a quarterback who can throw the ball and run the football, you’re always a gap short, you’re always a man short.”
Tennessee was without defensive lineman Maurice Couch, who was ruled ineligible for the game while the university investigates allegations he received improper benefits. Yahoo Sports reported that Couch, former Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, former Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and former Mississippi State receiver Chad Bumphis received payments from Luther Davis, who acted as a go-between for the players with agents and financial advisers.