A positive omen

Still licking its wounds after losing its SEC opener to Florida, Tennessee finds itself in the unenviable position of trying to bounce back on the road against the No. 3 team in college football Monday night at LSU.

Can it be done? Sure. Tennessee did it last year, in fact. The Vols suffered an even more discouraging loss in their 2004 SEC opener – a 34-10 shellacking at the hands of Auburn – then faced the imposing task of trying to bounce back on the road at Georgia. Coincidentally, the Dawgs were ranked No. 3 nationally at the time … the same as LSU is this year.

Just as cynics were shoveling dirt on the Vols' grave last fall, they traveled to Athens and beat the Bulldogs 19-14.

How's that for an omen?

Naturally, Tennessee's chances of bouncing back from a Game 2 loss with a Game 3 victory this fall would be better if the opposition weren't a powerful team like LSU. But at least one Vol thinks playing a quality opponent is a plus; it forces the Vols to focus on the present, rather than the past.

"Coming off a loss, having to get yourself mentally ready to play another good team … that's good for your system," senior tailback Gerald Riggs says. "You're able to get that (Florida) loss behind you, focus on the next game and see the big picture."

The big picture: If Tennessee loses at LSU, it drops to 0-2 in SEC play and says goodbye to any hopes of winning the league championship.

But that's the same situation the Vols faced when they headed to Georgia following last year's Auburn loss. They rose to the occasion then. Can they do so again? The answer arrives at 7:30 Eastern Time Monday night.

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