Thanks, Tigers

Auburn did Tennessee a significant favor Saturday night, dumping second-ranked Florida to drop the Gators into a virtual tie with the Vols in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division race.

Still, UT head man Phillip Fulmer said on his Sunday teleconference that Florida's loss is not the kind of thing he'll rely on to fire up his players this week.

"You mention that somewhere along the line," he said, "but they're college kids and they know (the repercussions). That'll probably be the primary thing talked about this week."

Auburn's upset of the Gators leaves Florida at 4-1 in league play. Tennessee is second at 1-1. Everyone else in the SEC East has lost at least two conference games. Because Florida owns a head-to-head win over Tennessee, however, the Gators must lose once more for the Vols to have a chance to win the division.

Fulmer suggests it's counterproductive to worry about Florida, noting that the Vols need only worry about themselves.

"My focus is to stay the course, keep trying to become a better team," he said. "We can't control what anybody else does; we can only control what we do. There's another level we can reach, and we're going to fight and scratch to try and get there."

The Vols (5-1 overall, 1-1 SEC) enjoyed an open date last weekend but still moved up a notch in the national polls. They stand seventh in the Associated Press poll and ninth in the USA Today poll. They are merely 11th in the BCS rankings, despite the fact they have wins over two teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time, Cal and Georgia.

"I'm not surprised by anything," Fulmer said. "We're focused on our team and what we can do to be a better team. At this point I'm not concerned about it."

Two weeks ago, Florida, Georgia and Auburn were all unbeaten. Florida and Auburn have lost a game each since then and Georgia has lost twice. Suddenly, there isn't a team in the conference with an unblemished record. Fulmer said that "certainly validates how tough this league is."

The league is so tough that the conference champion is almost certain to have one league loss ... maybe two.

"That's everybody's focus," Fulmer said. "But you're not going to do that (win the league) if you worry about the end of the year. You need to be focused on one game at a time."


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