But, with this year's team limping along at 4-3 overall and 1-3 in SEC play, you wonder if November will be any better than September and October were. Certainly, the schedule does not appear conducive to a late-season rally. The Vols play three of their five remaining games on the road, although two of those (at Mississippi State and at Vanderbilt) are against losing teams.
This Saturday's visit to South Carolina will be a tough test, for sure. Although the Vols have won the last nine meetings, the Gamecocks gave UT fits each of the last two years before losing 17-14 (2000) and 17-10 (2001).
''The last two years have been very competitive games,'' Carolina head man Lou Holtz noted earlier this week. ''But Tennessee always made the play at the end of the game and we haven't.''
Next up is top-ranked and defending national champ Miami, which has not lost in 1 1/2 seasons under head coach Larry Coker. The emormity of this challenge is obvious.
After playing at Mississippi State on Nov. 16 and at Vandy on Nov. 23, the Vols close the regular season against Kentucky, the SEC's most improved team. The Wildcats have lost 17 games in a row to UT, including a 38-35 heartbreaker last year in which they thoroughly outplayed the Vols only to fumble away their chance at victory in the final minute. It's safe to say that the Big Blue will be emotionally charged for that one.
Will this be a November to remember? Or will Tennessee's new theme be ''Limping through in 2002''?