DALLAS (Ticker) -- No team has played in the Cotton Bowl more than Texas A&M over the last 20 years. But coach Dennis Franchione may not want to come back.
Rick Clausen threw for three touchdowns in the first half and Gerald Riggs Jr. rushed for 102 yards and a score to lead No. 7 Tennessee to a 38-7 rout of the 25th-ranked Aggies.
After committing just eight turnovers in 11 regular-season games, Texas A&M (7-5) fumbled the ball away three times in the first half alone, leading to two touchdowns for Tennessee.
The Aggies never recovered and ended up with their worst bowl loss ever, surpassing a 28-3 defeat to Notre Dame here in 1993. It was also the fifth straight loss in the Cotton Bowl for Texas A&M, which made its eighth trip here since 1986 but has just two wins.
"You can't help a team like Tennessee by turning it over like we did in the first 17, 18 minutes of the game," Franchione said. "I'm not trying to take away from Tennessee's effort. They're a good team and deserve to be ranked where they are."
Texas A&M trailed, 38-0, before Reggie McNeal hit Earvin Taylor with a five-yard touchdown pass with 5:16 left in the fourth quarter to avert a shutout.
It was the most lopsided bowl victory for Tennessee (10-3), which played on New Year's Day for the 10th time in 13 years under coach Phillip Fulmer.
"This was probably our best effort of the year as a team," Fulmer said. "The quarterback, line, running backs, fullbacks, defense, special teams got it done for us. Great way to end the season."
In the Volunteers' last trip here in 2001, Casey Clausen completed just 7-of-25 passes for 120 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in a 35-21 loss to Kansas State.
The Cotton Bowl experience was far more memorable for his younger brother. Rick Clausen, a third-stringer for most of the season, did most of his damage in a 28-point first half for Tennessee, completing 17-of-25 passes for 216 yards. He attempted just two passes in the second half.
"When I got receivers like the receivers we have along with our running backs, fullbacks and tight ends, my job is very simple," Rick Clausen said. "Those are the guys that make the plays."
Rick Clausen connected with C.J. Fayton on a 57-yard scoring play 2:27 into the game. Fayton caught a short pass at midfield, darted to his right and raced into the end zone.
Courtney Lewis fumbled on Texas A&M's first possession and defensive tackle Turk McBride recovered at the Tennessee 29. However, the Volunteers failed to capitalize as James Wilhoit missed a 42-yard field goal attempt.
McNeal fumbled at his own 23 on the Aggies' second possession and safety Corey Campbell recovered for Tennessee. Four plays later, Clausen hit fullback Cory Anderson with a 12-yard touchdown with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Erik Mayes muffed a punt and Corey Larkins recovered for the Volunteers at the Texas A&M 8. On the next play, Cedric Houston took a handoff and raced into the end zone with 13:05 left in the first half.
Clausen threw a 13-yard touchdown to Tony Brown with 8:54 remaining in the second quarter to increase the lead to 28-0.
Tennessee nearly tripled the Aggies in total yards, 306-110, in the first half.
Riggs scored on a nine-yard run and Wilhoit added a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter for the Volunteers.
Led by Riggs, Houston and David Yancey, Tennessee rushed for 241 yards.
Texas A&M wasn't nearly as effective on the ground, rushing for 77 yards. But 54 of those came on a run by Terrence Thomas to the Tennessee 15 early in the third quarter. McNeal was tackled from behind on a 4th-and-1 play to end the threat.
McNeal completed 23-of-38 passes for 241 yards with an interception and added 29 yards on nine carries.
"Didn't execute, had too many mistakes today," McNeal said. "We had seven or eight turnovers all year, then come in here and we have five."
Tennessee played with a small decal on the back of its helmets in honor of the late Reggie White, who starred at the school in the early 1980s. It featured an orange cross with White's No. 92 written in black across the center.