Following a three-week layoff, the No. 23 Auburn Tigers overcame a slow start to beat the visiting Tennessee Volunteers 30-17 on Saturday night.
The Tigers (5-2, 5-2 SEC), who had their game against Mississippi State postponed due to COVID-19 concerns following a bye week, rallied from an early 10-0 deficit to win their third consecutive game.
The Volunteers (2-5, 2-5) suffered their fifth consecutive defeat -- all by double digits.
Auburn prevailed despite losing freshman running back sensation Tank Bigsby to a lower body injury in the first half. Bigsby landed hard on his left hip on the Tigers' opening series. He re-entered the game in the second quarter, but exited after one play and did not return.
Auburn's running game persevered, led by sophomore D.J. Williams (11 carries, 66 yards, one touchdown) and junior Shaun Shivers (14 carries, 65 yards).
Tennessee sophomore Eric Gray finished as the Vols' leading rusher (22 carries for 173 yards, TD) and receiver (49 yards on three catches).
Senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano ran for a 9-yard touchdown and senior kicker Brent Cimaglia connected on a 47-yard field goal with 13:42 left in the second quarter to craft Tennessee's 10-0 lead. But Cimaglia missed two costly field goal attempts from 50 and 37 yards in the first half.
Auburn sophomore quarterback Bo Nix completed 17 of 26 passes for 220 yards, and his 54-yard touchdown pass deep down the middle to receiver Anthony Schwartz provided the Tigers' first points.
Kicker Anders Carlson made the second of his three field goals with 7:25 left in the third to give Auburn its first lead, and junior defensive back Smoke Monday preserved it when he intercepted Guarantano in his own end zone and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.
Auburn brought the pressure often on Guarantano as junior Jamien Sherwood, senior DaQuan Newkirk, senior Big Kat Bryant, and freshman Colby Wooden combined for four sacks.
Freshman quarterback Harrison Bailey replaced Guarantano with 7:14 in the fourth quarter and directed Tennessee's fourth quarter touchdown drive. Bailey completed 7 of 10 passes for 86 yards.
--Field Level Media