Devil's Advocate

After upsetting No. 3 LSU, Tennessee must now take on enemy No. 1 — Complacency.

Sure the schedule says Ole Miss, but that's just an alias, and that's what makes Complacency such a dangerous opponent. In 1999, after the defending national champion Volunteers lost to Florida and before they beat Auburn, they met Complacency disguised as the Memphis Tigers and needed an improbable last minute heave from QB Tee Martin to pull out a 17-16 homecoming victory.

The Vols should have seen Complacency coming in 1999 because they had just lost the same opponent disguised as Memphis in 1996. That year the Vols behind the brilliant Peyton Manning were en route to a top 5 finish and the Orange Bowl when a 21-17 upset cost them both.

Later in 1999, having recovered from the early loss to Florida and the near death experience against Memphis, the Vols were in position to defend their national title by winning out against Kentucky and Vanderbilt. But first Complacency came calling in the form of unranked Arkansas and wrought a 28-24 setback that sunk UT's title hopes. The loss to Memphis is the only victory the Tigers have over Tennessee in 18 tries, while Tennessee is 12-2 against Arkansas.

The first loss to another unranked Arkansas team came in 1992 when the Vols were undefeated and ranked No. 4 in the country, and it triggered a three-game losing streak which led to Johnny Majors' dismissal. Of yeah, it also came after a victory over LSU in Baton Rouge.

The common denominator in these aforementioned upsets are that each occurred when least expected. In essence that's Complacency's method of operation, and Ole Miss enters at a time that could make it very dangerous — between the LSU and Georgia games. That makes Saturday's contest a classic sandwich game for Tennessee. That concept can be expanded to include UT's two biggest rivals Florida and Alabama, making Ole Miss a super sandwich game for the Vols, as the Rebels fall between Florida, LSU and Georgia, Alabama. A letdown is only natural. The bigger question is will it be enough for Ole Miss to pull a shocker?

Certainly, the Rebels haven't shown anything to this point that would make them a likely upset winner, but they can be expected to play hard for new head coach Ed Orgeron and they do have talent. You can never tell when a team under a first year head coach might gel, connecting the dots of new system and making it work in competition like it works in practice.

Besides, Tennessee could be regarded as just as unpredictable on offense. Even with Monday's 30-point second half, the Vols are still only averaging 18 points per contest. If you can't tell how they'll play from one half to the next, how can you be sure how they'll play from one game to the next? Plus, Orgeron is considered a defensive authority who can be expected to come in with a solid game plan.

The Vols only have three full days to recover from a physical contest against LSU and they play Ole Miss in an early game broadcast by Jefferson-Pilot. When is the last time UT played well in one of those? When is the last time a Big Orange crowd has been awake for one?


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