COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Not sure if a season like this shouldn’t be one after which to loosen the tie and set down the notepad.
Few things in life are more exhilarating than exceptionally exciting college football, especially in the Southeastern Conference and with over 100,000 in attendance.
It’s been a privilege to be on the field to take in quarter after quarter of Tennessee football this season, and we’re just now six games into things.
The reason why is obvious if you merely watch four consecutive quarters of the Volunteers in action. Could there be more of an ebb and flow with any team in the land? Seriously doubt it. (If there is, please let me know. I’m there!)
"We've had individuals stepping up all year long," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Saturday after the 45-38 double-overtime loss to Texas A&M. "Not many teams can recover from the amount of injuries or missed games that we've had. This football team has great resolve and resiliency. They just believe they're going to find a way to win."
What’s kinda crazy is we partially know what’s going to happen each week: a double-digit deficit, an immaculate comeback and a finish few would predict. It’s still a sight to see having it play out right in front of you.
The Orange & White nearly shrugged off seven (yes, seven) turnovers and four more injuries to starters to break a Texas A&M winning streak that’s its longest in the 21st Century. It was dang near remarkable that the Vols were even in contention to sneak away from the second-largest crowd in Kyle Field history with a win.
Then, again, they were just mashing the repeat button on the orange-clad turntable. We’re getting used to this.
Heck, is there some director with salt n pepper hair and a half-lit cigar perched above the Big Orange bench shouting, “Action!” moments prior to kickoff?
Tennessee put itself behind the 8-ball by trailing by 21 points — again.
Tennessee outscored its foe 21-7 to dominate the fourth quarter — again.
Tennessee suffered injuries to starters (linebacker Cortez McDowell, defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, left guard Jashon Robertson and center Dylan Wiesman) and bridged the gap with its “next man up” mentality — again.
"Coach Jones says that no matter what the name is on the back of your jersey, you're still required the same expectation as the person who is in front of you," Tennessee safety Todd Kelly Jr. said.
See what I mean? Will this type of season ever be topped? Don’t see it happening.
I mean, what would a scriptwriter come up with? It’d have to dazzle. Like Tennessee taking on some traditional rival for the 99th time with that team being undefeated, a defending champion, a star-studded roster, a coaching legend, a No. 1 ranking. Throw in a nine-game winning streak over the Vols and make it so the odds are insurmountably stacked against them.
For good measure, let’s raise the stakes. Make it to where if Tennessee doesn’t win, it won’t get to play for a conference championship.
Alabama and Tennessee kick off at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Saturday at 3:30 Eastern. Who’s bringing the popcorn?