There's also a good chance Kentucky (Nov. 29) could be favored when the 3-0 Wildcats roll into Knoxville two months hence.
Is the outlook really that bleak? Yep. Whereas Tennessee continues to spin its wheels, most of its future foes are improving on a week-to-week basis. Here's a look at how the remaining opponents fared last weekend:
AUBURN (SEPT. 27): The Tigers (3-1) gave defending national champ LSU fits before bowing 26-21 when the visitors hit an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:03 remaining. Chris Todd appears to be settling in as Auburn's quarterback, based on a solid effort (17 of 32, 250 yards) on Saturday.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (OCT. 4): After two losses to open the season, the Huskies showed a faint pulse in Game 3. They intercepted three passes, recovered a fumble and allowed just 154 yards of total offense (31 rushing) in a 48-3 drubbing of Indiana State.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (OCT. 18): Believe it or not, here's a team that makes Tennessee's offense look like a well-oiled machine. In a 38-7 loss to Georgia Tech the Bulldogs (1-3) scored a fourth-period TD against Tech reserves, ending a streak of eight quarters without an offensive POINT.
SOUTH CAROLINA (NOV. 1): The Gamecocks (2-2) needed a 17-yard TD pass with 1:58 remaining to finally put away Div. 1-AA Wofford 23-13. Chris Smelley passed for 204 yards but did not complete a throw of 20 yards or more all game.
WYOMING (NOV. 8): The Cowboys (2-2) lost 44-0 to Brigham Young but still played the Stormin' Mormons better than UCLA (59-0) did a week earlier. Dax Crum completed 15 of 28 passes for 119 yards and Devin Moore rushed 14 times for 97 yards but Wyoming was done in by six turnovers – three fumbles and three interceptions.
VANDERBILT (NOV. 22): The Commodores' Ryan Hamilton earned National Defensive Player of the Week after recording three interceptions, a touchdown-saving stop on fourth-and-inches and a fumble recovery in Vandy's 23-17 win at Ole Miss.
KENTUCKY (NOV. 29): The Big Blue (3-0) had open date in preparation for this weekend's visit from Western Kentucky.