Coming up for Tennessee

It's early, of course, but Tennessee's football outlook has undergone a drastic change in the last 48 hours.

Based on college football's first weekend of games, the Vols are not as good as advertised and several of their remaining opponents are sturdier than expected.

Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky and Vanderbilt posted lopsided Game 1 victories. Arkansas and South Carolina struggled a bit before prevailing. The only SEC foe on Tennessee's schedule that appears to be mediocre this season is Mississippi State.

Meanwhile, the Vols' remaining non-conference foes appear better than anticipated. Southern Miss trounced UT-Martin, Arkansas State played Texas alarmingly tough and Louisiana Lafayette gave South Carolina fits.

That said, here's a closer look at how Tennessee's future foes fared:

Sept. 8: Southern Miss (1-0) got a big performance from tailback Damion Fletcher – 156 yards on just 19 carries – en route to a 35-13 drubbing of Tennessee-Martin. The Golden Eagles spotted the Skyhawks a 6-0 lead before roaring back to win comfortably. USM quarterback Jeremy Young struggled a bit, completing just 11 of 26 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Sept. 15: Florida (1-0) outclassed a thoroughly outmanned Western Kentucky team 49-3. The Gators piled up 510 yards of total offense with Tim Tebow completing 13 of 17 for 300 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed eight times for 38 yards and another TD.

Sept. 22: Arkansas State (0-1) was a 39-point underdog at No. 4 Texas but outgained the Longhorns 397-340 in total yards and lost by a mere 21-13 score. Indians quarterback Corey Leonard threw for 259 yards and gave Texas trouble with his running. Remember how Tennessee has struggled with mobile quarterbacks in recent years?

Oct. 6: Georgia (1-0) shut out explosive Oklahoma State in the second half en route to a 35-14 triumph. The Dawgs' retooled defense limited Cowboy QB Bobby Reid to 16 of 30 passing for 191 yards, while sacking him five times and intercepting him once. Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, meanwhile, was 18 of 24 for 234 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions.

Oct. 13: Mississippi State (0-1) gave LSU trouble for a half last Thursday night but ultimately lost 45-0 thanks to a six-interception performance by quarterback Michael Henig.

Oct. 20: Alabama (1-0) annihilated a hapless Western Carolina team 52-6. John Parker Wilson completed 17 of 25 passes for 189 yards and Terry Grant rushed for 134 yards as the Tide piled up 575 total yards, including 313 rushing yards.

Oct. 27: South Carolina (1-0) showed no run defense in a surprisingly difficult 28-14 defeat of lowly Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns piled up 252 rushing yards and were tied at 14 late in the first half. They drove inside the Gamecocks' 5-yard line twice in the final quarter only to come away with no points. First-team Carolina QB Blake Mitchell missed the game under a suspension.

Nov. 3: Louisiana-Lafayette (0-1) gave South Carolina considerable trouble before bowing 28-14. Quarterback Michael Desormeaux ran for 116 yards and completed 12 of 19 passes for another 63 yards to keep the Ragin' Cajuns close.

Nov. 10: Arkansas (1-0) got 151 yards from Darren McFadden and 129 from Felix Jones in a 46-26 defeat of Troy. McFadden also threw a touchdown pass and Jones returned a kickoff 90 yards for a TD. Quarterback Casey Dick completed just 11 of 20 passes for 108 yards. The Hogs were without star receiver Marcus Monk, who is sidelined by a knee injury.

Nov. 17: Vanderbilt (1-0) got an incredible performance from Earl Bennett in a 41-17 pasting of Richmond. Bennett caught 13 passes for a school-record 223 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He also returned punts 36 and 25 yards as the Commodores won a season opener for the first time since 1997.

Nov. 24: Kentucky (1-0) showcased its imposing offensive weaponry in a 50-10 blowout of Eastern Kentucky. Andre Woodson completed 20 of 29 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns, while Rafael Little ran for another 135 yards. The Wildcats scored on six of their first eight possessions and didn't have to punt until the fourth quarter.


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