Tennessee Volunteers Getting Better Each Week

By Tim Letcher

After one of the best games of the weekend, all of the talk was about the Georgia Bulldogs and rightfully so. After all, the Bulldogs snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, pulling out a 34-31 overtime victory on the road against the Tennessee Volunteers.

And while the sixth-ranked Bulldogs deserve the headlines, both for their performance down the stretch and because of the significant injuries that they suffered in the game, what got lost was the performance of the Volunteers.

In fact, Tennessee appeared to have scored a touchdown in overtime which would have given them the lead, but Pig Howard fumbled just before reaching the goal line and the ball went out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback. Georgia would kick a game-winning field goal seconds later to grab the win.

The Vols fell to 3-3 with the loss, but this may have been their best performance of the season. It was at least their best performance against a BCS-level team. Tennessee trailed 17-3 at the half and appeared to be on their way to another double-digit loss, but the Vols scored back-to-back touchdowns to tie the game late in the third quarter.

After Georgia took the lead back at 24-17, Tennessee tied the game at 24 on a Rajion Neal touchdown. Neal scored again with just 1:54 left to give the Vols the lead. Neal was solid for the Vols on Saturday. He rushed 28 times for 148 yards and a pair of scores. Justin Worley also had a good game, connecting on 17-of-31 through the air for 215 yards and a score.

Tennessee will need Neal and Worley to continue playing well, as they are about to face three straight ranked opponents. And if the Vols come out of that stretch of games healthy, the remaining three contests appear to be winnable games, and that would get Tennessee back into a bowl game after missing the postseason last year. That would be a credit to new head coach Butch Jones, who has revived this once-proud program.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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