for this game

Tennessee looks to bounce back in home opener

Sep 6, 2007 - 10:40 AM Southern Miss (1-0) at No. 24 Tennessee (0-1) 7:00 pm EDT

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- A week after suffering a tough loss on the road, Tennessee hopes a return to Rocky Top will get its season pointed in the right direction.

The 24th-ranked Volunteers will look to even their record in their home opener Saturday night when they host Southern Mississippi at Neyland Stadium.

The good news for the Vols is that they own a perfect 4-0 record all-time against Southern Miss. All four meetings took place in Knoxville, and two of the four wins were shutouts.

Tennessee posted a 56-0 triumph in 1950, and the three most recent clashes all have come during the Phillip Fulmer era. Fulmer's Vols defeated the Eagles 42-0 in 1995, 44-20 in 1997 and 19-16 in 2000.

Also, Tennessee has never lost a home game to a current member of Conference USA.

Tennessee was strong offensively in Saturday night's 45-31 loss to California. Despite playing with a broken pinky, quarterback Erik Ainge completed 32-of-47 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns.

Arian Foster rushed for 89 yards and Chris Brown added two touchdown catches for the Volunteers, who lost their season opener for the first time since 1994.

Defensively, Tennessee may be without one of their top players - defensive end Xavier Mitchell. The senior was injured while attempting to make a tackle during the fourth quarter against the Golden Bears and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.

Mitchell was diagnosed with a mild concussion, and his status for Saturday's game is uncertain.

Southern Miss enters the contest having kicked off their season with a 35-13 victory at home over Tennessee-Martin.

Sophomore Damian Fletcher ran for 156 yards on 19 carries, reaching the 1,500 yard career rushing mark. Senior Jeremy Young completed 11-of-26 attempts for 115 yards and one touchdown.