This is nothing new. They've been doing it for years now.
For those of you who thought what you saw Saturday at Neyland Stadium was a shocking case of the Vols playing miserably in a game they should be coasting toward victory, look at the record.
Here are just a few examples from the Fulmer era:
o 24-21 loss to unranked Mississippi State, 1994.
o 1995-97, barely beat Vanderbilt by scores of 12-7, 14-7 and 17-10, respectively, then again edged the 'Dores in 2000, 28-26.
o 21-17 loss to Memphis, 1996, then snuck by them 17-16 in 1999 and 19-17 in 2000.
o Lost to LSU 38-31 in overtime in 2000; collapsed in the second half to lose to the same Tigers in the 2001 SEC Championship game 31-20 to lose their spot in the national championship game at the Rose Bowl.
You want more? Just look over the scores from the past few years. You'll find them.
The question is, why does this continue to happen?
The answer came after the game when senior defensive tackle Rashad Moore said something you don't expect a player and senior leader to say.
"Everybody can't get up for Rutgers," he said.
They can't? According to the first 30 minutes against the Scarlet Knights, apparently not.
But he said they can get up for some teams, specifically "teams like Alabama, Georgia."
Where does Arkansas fall into that equation?
With the Vols playing arguably the worst five minutes in the history of Tennessee football at the end of the first half against Florida, then extending that to a full half against Rutgers, the Razorbacks must be salivating at the taste of an orange right now.
This is an Arkansas team that was rolled by Alabama last weekend, 30-12. These are the Razorbacks that UT beat 63-20 just two years ago.
There's little reason to think Tennessee will come out ready to play next weekend either, but senior cornerback Willie Miles believes this will be enough to get the players' attention.
"I really think everybody sees the light now," Miles said. "We know we can't take anybody lightly. I thought we really learned that lesson after the Florida game. But I think it took this. Rutgers really helped us out."
The very fact that it took this kind of performance in the first half against a Rutgers team that lost to Villanova 37-19 and Buffalo 34-11 tells much about the attitude of this team.
All week leading up to the Rutgers game, Tennessee players told everyone who would listen that Florida taught them a lesson, that they can't think they're better than anyone, no matter who they take the field against.
They began to believe their own press clippings against the Gators, and it cost them.
They bought into the fact that Rutgers was a 40-point underdog, and the price was nearly one of the biggest upsets ever against a Vol team.
Now, they've opened as a 13 1/2-point favorite against Arkansas, a team with one of the best secondaries in the SEC.
An offense that couldn't move the ball against the Rutgers defense and a Vol 'D which was knifed through with precision by backup quarterback Ryan Cupit and the Scarlet Knights is expected to beat the Razorbacks by two touchdowns.
No SEC team is as bad as Rutgers. The Vols are entering a stretch where they play Arkansas, at Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina before Miami comes to town.
If they go into any of those games with the same attitude they entered the game against Rutgers with, they will lose - handily.
And it wouldn't be a surprise.
They have a history of this. Just check the records.
Rank does not assure victory
Published: Tue Oct 01, 2002 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 04:31 p.m.