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Tennessee flattens South Carolina, 45-20

The Vols went ahead fast, sleepwalked for a bit, but finished strong.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Tennessee Volunteers picked up another win Saturday afternoon.

The Vols flattened the South Carolina Gamecocks 45-20 to improve to 4-2 on the season. The win, if things play out right, seems to set Tennessee up for bowl eligibility if they can knock off two of their next six opponents o finish the season.

Tennessee scooted out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. This was done on the back of Hendon Hooker, who threw three touchdowns and ran for another. Tiyon Evans would make it 35-0 late in the second quarter on a 45-yard run to the end zone. The 35 unanswered points certainly kept Vol fans who attended the game afloat, and they went into halftime up 38-7.

South Carolina scored two touchdowns while the Vols were sleepwalking a bit. But a touchdown from Len’Neth Whitehead put them up 45-20 to cap things off right.

Evans led the team in rushing with 119 yards on 16 carries. He scored one of three rushing touchdowns on the day and looked pretty great doing so. Evans left the game due to injury but was kept out only for precautionary reasons according to head coach Josh Heupel.

It’s a good thing Tennesee got the win today, because their next four games are hellish. They must first face the Ole Miss Rebels next week in Knoxville. Then, they’ll head to Tuscaloosa to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. After a bye week, they go to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats before having the unenviable task of hosting the Georgia Bulldogs. Given that they have South Alabama and the Vanderbilt Commodores to end the season, that should at least soften the blow if the worst-case scenario happens here. But the pathway to six wins is right there now after this rout, and the vibes have to be good now.

For South Carolina, their dismal season only got worse. At 3-3, they now have a schedule that features Vanderbilt, the Texas A&M Aggies, Florida Gators, Missouri Tigers, Auburn Tigers, and Clemson Tigers. Granted, not as daunting as originally intended, and they could get to five wins if they knock off Vandy and lowly Mizzou. The trick will be attempting to find a swing game elsewhere to go their way.