It may have been ugly but Tennessee just captured its best win of the season by beating Mississippi State 20-10. The win was Tennessee’s first conference victory of the season.

On the other end of the spectrum, Joe Moorhead’s program just suffered one of the worst losses in the two years the former Penn State coordinator has been running the Mississippi State program. The worst part for Moorhead? His offense was mostly shut down by Jeremy Pruitt’s defense on Saturday.

Senior Tommy Stevens got the start for Mississippi State but after going just six of 11 for 67 yards and two interceptions, he was benched at halftime. Freshman Garrett Shrader also threw an interception in the game but he added another dimension to the offense with his legs and threw a touchdown for MSU.

For Tennessee, Brian Maurer continued his exciting play in the first half but he did not appear in the second half after suffering an undisclosed injury just before halftime. Maurer finished the game completing four of seven passes for 61 yards with two interceptions.

The Volunteers dominated the first half of this game but two end zone interceptions by Maurer kept the Bulldogs in the game, as the score was 10-7 at halftime.

Tennessee’s defense played its best football of the season, limiting Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill to just 13 yards on 11 carries in the game. Pruitt’s defense also forced three turnovers in the game. Mississippi State converted only five of 11 third down attempts. The Vols also added seven sacks and had 10 tackles for loss.

Check out this drive chart for the Bulldog offense in this game:

  • Punt (3 and out)
  • Punt (3 and out)
  • Interception
  • Field goal
  • Interception
  • Punt (3 and out)
  • Interception
  • Punt (4 plays)
  • Touchdown drive
  • Missed field goal

Considering Moorhead was hired for his ability to lead an offense, that’s not going to cut it against a Tennessee defense that was largely suspect entering Saturday’s game.

One note for next week from this game, freshman linebacker Henry To’o To’o was called for targeting in the second half and was ejected. He will now miss the first half of next week’s Alabama game.

Tennessee rushed for 193 yards on 42 carries in the game. Ty Chandler rushed for 63 yards on 16 carries, Tim Jordan added 59 yards on 19 carries. Considering how conservative Tennessee’s offense was on Saturday, those numbers weren’t bad against a Mississippi State defense stacked up in the box.

With this win, Tennessee improves to 2-4 on the season while Mississippi State falls to 3-3 on the season. Next weekend, the Vols travel to Alabama and the Bulldogs host LSU.