KNOXVILLE — Tennessee beat the University of Alabama at Birmingham 30-7 on Saturday at Neyland Stadium to improve to 4-5.
The Blazers are 6-2.
Bryce Thompson became the first Tennessee player to intercept three passes in a game since Deon Grant in 1999 against Auburn. Thompson's picks led to 13 points and handed solid field position to a Volunteers offense that struggled against the Blazers. He also had three tackles and a quarterback hurry.
How stagnant was UAB's passing offense against the Vols? Thompson was the Blazers' second-leading receiver, tied with Lucious Stanley and Austin Watkins with three catches each.
Thompson's first interception came on the first play of the game and set the tone for the Vols' attacking defense, which forced four turnovers. Tennessee's first takeaway set the offense up with great field position, and the Vols cashed in with a Brent Cimaglia field goal for a lead they would not relinquish.
When he was getting a lot of playing time earlier this season, Eric Gray was close to breaking free for a touchdown on a number of carries. The freshman's first touchdown as a Vol finally happened Saturday via reception, coming on a third-quarter pass from Jarrett Guarantano. Gray made a nice play on the ball, getting turned around in the process but hauling it in to put the Vols in front 30-0.
WHAT IT MEANS
In recent years, Tennessee has had its struggles against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents from outside of the Power Five conferences — most notably this year's season-opening loss to Georgia State — but had no such problems against the Blazers. The Vols took care of business and set themselves up nicely for the final three-game stretch of the regular season, all winnable matchups that keep alive Tennessee's hopes of a bowl game.