Deja Vu

As the beat writer on UT football for The Knoxville Journal, I was driving through Memphis on the afternoon of Oct. 22, 1988, trailing a few yards behind the buses transporting Vol coaches and players to Liberty Bowl Stadium.

As we approached the game site, fans of the Memphis State Tigers lined the street and chanted "Oh-and-six! Oh-and-six! Oh-and-six!" The Vols limped into that '88 game with an 0-6 record, so MSU's players and fans were drooling at the prospect of posting their first win in series history. UT had won the previous 11 meetings but this Tennessee team appeared terribly vulnerable. The defense was so bad that coordinator Ken Donahue had resigned one game earlier.

Flash forward 17 years, and the situations are eerily similar. The 2005 Vols have dropped four games in a row, the longest losing streak since ‘88. The team appears terribly vulnerable. The offense has been so bad that coordinator Randy Sanders announced his resignation one game ago. And this week's opponent, as fate would have it, is the Memphis Tigers.

Big Orange fans can only hope the similarities don't end there. I watched in amazement on Oct. 22, 1988 as the Vols finally put together a complete game. They got well against the Tigers that day, rolling to a 38-25 victory.

I'll never forget that game, and I'll never forget the reaction of Tennessee's fans. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, they gleefully chanted, "Oh-and-twelve! Oh-and-twelve! Oh-and-twelve!"

Can history repeat this weekend? Can a struggling Volunteer squad get well at the expense of its West Tennessee rival? Vol fans can only hope so.


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