Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Tennessee loss to Memphis would put football program at lowest point ever

Heading into this season, most Tennessee football fans had a realistic expectation about what was to come. Because of the flip-flopping of coaches and the attrition of players, the Volunteers were likely looking at a losing season.

Despite having this understanding, the winless October the team experienced was still hard to swallow. Blowout losses to Alabama and Georgia were the cherries on top of a wretched hot fudge sundae. The team, fans, and media all talked about making it to November because the schedule would get lighter and wins would be waiting.

Now that we have reached November, a very serious question must be addressed: Are more wins really waiting for the team? What have we seen in the last month that would indicate this team has improved to the point that it can play 60 good minutes?

In the aftermath of the South Carolina game, many have pointed to more productivity from the quarterback position and better defensive play as signs of improvement. However, we have to remember that the Vols still lost the game by two touchdowns. Is this the standard now being applied to Tennessee football? It seems fans are grasping for moral victories, which is something I thought I would never see in Knoxville. This team still has big problems.

The Volunteers stand 2-6 and are on the brink of their worst record since 1977's team went 4-7. This year's team has things in common with the 1977 squad. Both teams began the year 2-2. The 1977 team then went on an October losing streak that saw its record drop to 2-5. That team avoided dropping to 2-6 by beating Memphis State 27-14.

Coincidentally, the Vols play the same school this Saturday, and the Vols must win. Simply put, Memphis is awful. The Tigers are 1-7 and have lost their last five games by a combined score of 217 to 56. The only SEC team they have played is Mississippi State, and the Tigers got pasted 49-7. This score is in the neighborhood of some of Tennessee's SEC losses.

Given the terrible state of Tennessee's football team, a loss to an even worse Memphis team could be a body blow that propels the Volunteers to a 2-10 season. I do not see how the Vols could recover from a loss.

A loss would put the program at the lowest point in its history. Let's face it; the team is already on the borderline when it comes to being the worst in school history. A loss to Memphis would make it that much worse.

So, if somebody tells you that Tennessee has nothing to play for this week, tell them they are wrong. The team needs a win in the worst possible way. A one-point win would be good enough.

The big concern is that the team will not be emotionally pumped up. After four straight conference games, the Memphis Tigers are not a sexy opponent. In recent years, Tennessee has had trouble getting up for this team, and playing in a half-empty Liberty Bowl will not help any.

The stakes are high Saturday night, and a season hangs in the balance.

Perhaps there will be enough magic in the moonlight for the Volunteers to win.


johnny reb said...

bad teams usually play good games. ut should win....say 27-24.

you guys better get ready for the rebels.

Chris said...

We'll see, Johnny Reb.

Until this morning, I didn't know UT was a 20-point favorite over Memphis. How can that be?

Chris said...

Tennessee 50 Memphis 14. Thank goodness.