Rocky road on rocky top

If Tennessee's 27-24 overtime loss to UCLA wasn't discouraging enough, the Vols' 2008 schedule may be even tougher than the first glance suggested.

Week 1 of college football saw Alabama and Kentucky post upset victories. Vanderbilt showed better than expected in beating Miami (Ohio) and Northern Illinois gave Minnesota fits before losing in the game's final minute. South Carolina looked surprisingly good once it changed quarterbacks. As expected, Florida, Auburn and Georgia overpowered outmanned opponents.

The only teams on the Vol slate who appear to be weaker than first thought were UAB and Mississippi State.

That said, here's a look at how each of Tennessee's upcoming opponents over the weekend:

- UAB (Sept. 13) faded like old jeans Saturday vs. Tulsa, Leading 22-21 at the half, the Blazers were outgained 314-133 in yards and outscored 24-0 in points over the final two quarters in a 45-22 setback. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's Golden Hurricane attack piled up 601 yards of total offense against UAB. Blazer QB Joe Webb was a bright spot, passing for 167 yards and running for another 136.

- Florida (Sept. 20) scored all of its points in a 30-minute explosion that resulted in a 56-10 blowout of Hawaii. The Gators had six scoring plays of 32 yards or longer, including an 80-yard interception return and a 73-yard punt return.

- Auburn (Sept. 27) limited Louisiana-Monroe to 2-of-18 on third-down conversions in a 34-0 romp. The Tigers alternated quarterbacks Kodi Burns (4 of 9, 15 yards) and Chris Todd (9 of 18, 70 yards) but didn't get much production from either.

- Northern Illinois (Oct. 4) lost a heartbreaker, surrendering the game-winning touchdown with just 22 seconds left in a 31-27 loss to Minnesota. NIU managed just 72 rushing yards but hung tough thanks to the freshman passing combination of Chandler Harnish (17 of 29, 326 yards) and Nathan Palmer (3 catches, 170 yards with TDs covering 91 and 52 yards).

- Georgia (Oct. 11) hammered Georgia Southern 45-21 but lost star defensive tackle Jeff Owens to a season-ending knee injury. The top-ranked Bulldogs got a career-high 275 passing yards from Matthew Stafford.

- Mississippi State (Oct. 18) may change quarterbacks after losing 22-14 at Louisiana Tech. Starter Wesley Carroll completed just 12 of 25 passes for 172 yards with two interceptions, while backup Tyson Lee was 10 of 15 for 85 yards.

- Alabama (Oct. 25) limited Clemson's vaunted "Thunder And Lightning" combination of C.J. Spiller and James Davis to a combined 20 rushing yards in a 34-10 drubbing of the ninth-ranked Tigers.

- South Carolina (Nov. 1) has a full-blown quarterback controversy after starter Tommy Beecher completed just 12 of 22 passes for 106 yards with four interceptions in a 34-0 defeat of North Carolina State. Backup Chris Smelley came off the bench to direct three fourth-quarter TD drives, hitting 5 of 5 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

- Wyoming (Nov. 8) Sophomore Dax Crum completed 14 of 22 passes for 111 yards and connected on a game-winning 28-yard TD pass with 7:28 left as the Cowboys edged Ohio University 21-20. Devin Moore led the ground attack with 82 yards on 25 carries.

- Vanderbilt (Nov. 22) got a big game from quarterback Chris Nickson (166 rushing yards, 91 passing yards) in thumping Miami of Ohio 34-13.

- Kentucky (Nov. 29) returned two fumbles a combined 100 yards for touchdowns – one going 72, the other 28 – in a stunning 27-2 defeat of homestanding Louisville on Sunday. All told, the lightly regarded Big Blue defense forced five turnovers and held the Cardinals to 205 yards of total offense.

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