While Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer ''hit the wall'' so to speak, Tiger QB Jason Campbell hit open receiver after open receiver after open receiver. Feasting on a Vol pass defense that allowed its first three opponents to complete 60 percent of their throws for an average of 242 passing yards per game, the much-maligned Campbell completed 16 of 23 attempts for a career-high 252 yards and two touchdowns. Ainge completed 17 of 35 for 173 yards and a touchdown but threw four interceptions. He also lost a fumble at the Vol 1-yard line. Schaeffer finished 1 of 5 for 13 yards, with an interception.
If there was a silver lining for Tennessee, it was this: Auburn piled up 333 yards of total offense in the first half but only 67 in the second half.
''Too little, too late,'' Vol linebacker Kevin Burnett said.
''We'll see them again,'' he added, apparently referring to the SEC Championship game.
The Vols' pass defense must improve dramatically if they're to reach the league title game. Head coach Phillip Fulmer said the blame can't all be placed on the Vol secondary.
''If we don't get to the quarterback, we're vulnerable to the crossing routes,'' he said. ''And that's exactly what happened on one of them ... they hit a crossing route that went in for the score.''
While the Vol pass defense was giving up huge chunks of yards, the offense was giving up turnovers. The Vols committed six (five interceptions and a fumble). As Fulmer noted: ''That'll usually get you beat.''
The head man seemed both shocked and chagrined by the severity of the beating.
''I take full responsibility,'' he said. ''I didn't get them ready.''
Cadillac Williams rushed 24 times for 95 yards to pace Auburn's ground game. Running mate Ronnie Brown added 13 carries for 57 yards. Brown also led the Tigers in receiving with six catches for 79 yards. Courtney Taylor added 77 yards on three catches.
Cedric Houston paced Tennessee's ground game with 55 yards on 15 carries. Gerald Riggs added 43 yards on seven tries. C.J. Fayton was the top receiver with four catches for 49 yards. Tony Brown added 31 yards on three grabs.
Auburn raced to a 31-3 halftime lead and coasted from there. Campbell riddled UT for first-half completions covering 42, 46, 31, 38 and 31 yards. He finished the the first two quarters 12 of 15 for a whopping 240 yards and two touchdowns. The TDs covered five yards to Ben Obomanu and 31 yards to Courtney Taylor.
While Campbell was feasting, Tennessee's rookie QBs were fasting. Ainge completed just 6 of 17 first-half throws for 66 yards. Schaeffer was 0 of 3. Each threw a first-half interception. Tennessee's only points came on a 41-yard James Wilhoit field goal.
Auburn scored on its first possession, going 55 yards in nine plays. Brown got the touchdown on a nine-yard run.
After Wilhoit's field goal closed the gap to 7-3, the Tigers marched from their 20-yard line to the Vol 1. At this point an Omar Gaither hit on Brown caused a fumble that Burnett recovered. Ainge fumbled the ball right back on a second-and-10 sneak, however. The Tigers scored moments later on Campbell's five-yard toss to Obomanu, boosting the lead to 14-3.
A 24-yard John Vaughn field goal widened the gap to 17-3, then Auburn got a five-yard TD run from Williams to cap a four-play, 50-yard march that boosted the bulge to 24-3.
Tennessee appeared to be driving for a touchdown late in the half, moving to the Auburn 33-yard line. An Ainge pass was batted by Wayne Dickens and intercepted by Travis Williams, however. Auburn then bolted 68 yards in just four plays to go up 31-3. The big plays were a 38-yard pass from Campbell to Brown and the 31-yard TD pass to Taylor.
The Vols closed to 31-10 when Ainge directed a six-play, 53-yard scoring drive that ended with a two-yard TD pass to Cory Anderson on the first play of the fourth quarter. The big plays on the drive were a 17-yard completion to Brown and a 26-yard burst by Riggs.
After Vaughn booted a 29-yard field goal for a 34-10 lead, there was no further scoring. Roshaun Fellows intercepted a pass to thwart an Auburn drive, then Junior Rosegreen intercepted his fourth pass of the night -- breaking Auburn's school record and tying the SEC record -- to stop Tennessee's final drive.