COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- No. 12 Tennessee looks to continue its recent winning streak but hopes to have an easier time of it when it travels to South Carolina for a Southeastern Conference contest on Saturday.
The Volunteers have won three in a row since getting routed by Auburn at home on October 2, 34-10. But the wins - over Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama - have been close, decided by five, four and four points, respectively.
Last week, Tennessee (6-1, 4-1 SEC East) knocked off Alabama, 17-13, despite being outgained by the Crimson Tide, 218-195, and rushing 34 times for just 63 yards.
Erik Ainge threw a touchdown pass in the second quarter and the defense scored on a first-quarter fumble return and limited Alabama to a second-half field goal to secure the win.
"We've got plenty to do to get ready for a really fine South Carolina football team," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said. "I like being around this team. They certainly have some drama about them, to say the least."
The Vols are tied with the Bulldogs atop the division but hold the head-to-head tiebreaker and would advance to the SEC Championship with victories over the Gamecocks and lowly Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
South Carolina (5-2, 3-2 East) has had two weeks to prepare for the Vols after defeating Kentucky, 12-7, on October 16.
Michael Rathe came off the bench to lead the Gamecocks on a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. He threw a 19-yard TD pass with 1:28 left as South Carolina won for the fourth time in its last five games.
The Vols lead the all-time series, 18-2-2, and Fulmer is 11-0 all-time against the Gamecocks.
Tennessee's last four wins over the Gamecocks are by three, eight, seven and three points. The Vols have won the last 11 meetings since a 24-23 loss in 1992.
"We've been very fortunate at times to win those games and have played really hard in each one of them," Fulmer said. "We expect nothing less from this game."