The excitement in Knoxville is higher than it’s been in an number of years, even though the Tennessee Volunteers (2-0, 0-0) have only proven they are as good as they were the last two seasons after two games. The difference this year is Butch Jones has the faithful fired up in a frenzy over the team’s 2-0 start despite the fact the Volunteers also started the previous two seasons 2-0 and despite the fact the two wins came against Austin Peay (0-2, 0-0) and Western Kentucky (1-1, 0-0). The question: Will this 2-0 start be any different from 2011 and 2012?
Two years ago, the Volunteers opened by destroying Montana 42-16 and Cincinnati 45-23, and then they promptly lost by 10 points to Florida. Last season, Tennessee crushed NC State 35-21 and Georgia State 51-13 in Weeks 1 and 2 only to lose to Florida again in Week 3 – this time by 17 points.
Well, it’s Week 3 again for Tennessee and just as in the last two seasons, the level of competition is about to be elevated – a lot! All the excitement and optimism among the Vols’ coaches, players and fans will be tested Saturday in Autzen Stadium. What transpires in Eugene, Ore. will either validate or possibly abolish the enthusiasm about this Tennessee team.
What to look for in Week 3: Will Rocky Top feel as high as it does now? Unless No. 2 Oregon (2-0, 0-0) pulls a Western Kentucky and gives the ball to Tennessee seven times, this game probably won’t be close. The Vols surrendered nearly 400 yards to the Hilltoppers, which aren’t nearly as dynamic and explosive as the Ducks. It will be interesting to gauge Jones’ and the Vols’ approval rating in Knoxville following this trip out west.