Miami, with its beach atmosphere, Cuban feel and lively nightlife, seems like the perfect vacation and party destination for just about anyone.
But not for the Vols.
With every Virginia Tech trip into the end zone during last Saturday's Hokie upset of then undefeated Miami, I could foresee an additional touchdown thrown on Tennessee for this Saturday's game.
What better way to heal the wounds of your first regular-season loss in over three years, than to destroy a traditional power like the Vols?
Everyone seems to see it coming.
The Hurricanes opened as a 12 1/2 point favorite, and rightfully so. It would be hard to point to any moment this season when the Vols were dominant in any phase of the game (except maybe against Auburn's secondary late in the game).
After holding Fresno State to negative yards rushing, the Vol defense led the nation. Since then, Tennessee has made opposing running backs look like Heisman candidates.
Jarrett Payton won't pull a "Cadillac" on UT, but someone on the Vols' front four will need to step up so 'Cane quarterback Brock Berlin can do what he does best - throw interceptions.
Miami's offense shouldn't scare anyone. But its defense, led by "looks like I'm already in the NFL" free safety Sean Taylor, may be even better than the past two years.
And you may remember that Hurricane defense that dominated last year's 26-3 win over at Neyland.
Thanks to Taylor and the secondary, the 'Cane defense has allowed only five passing touchdowns this season. So to have hopes of winning - or at least scoring - all signs point to UT needing a running game.
Cedric Houston is still banged up, but will play, and Jabari Davis once again showed flashes against Duke.
The wild card, though, is sophomore Gerald Riggs.
At Tuesday's media day, even Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said Riggs was likely to get more playing time early. Considering the problems the coaching staff has had with Riggs, Fulmer's sudden approval of the young back might be more indicative of the Vols' problems in the running game and not Riggs' sudden turnaround.
Regardless, Riggs may be the boost the running game needs to move the ball against Miami.
Many players have compared Saturday's game to UT's visit to the Swamp in 2001. As huge underdogs, the Vols knocked off No. 2 Florida through a strong running attack and an unorthodox defensive scheme.
Tailback Travis Stephens ran wild on the Gator D, and UT's defensive line spent a good part of the game in vertical stances, confusing Florida's offensive line.
The same game in 2001 threw the Vols back onto the national stage and silenced many of Fulmer's doubters. But the Vols have only two marquee wins (Michigan and Florida) and a 15-8 record since.
Fulmer has talked all week about his team finding its breakout performance against Miami and with a possible trip to the SEC Championship still on the line, the Vols need it.
In the past two years, the Hurricanes have never had to react to a regular season loss and the Vols have never reacted to the pressure of a big game.
It should be interesting to see which reacts better.
- Glenn LaFollette is a senior in broadcasting. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Miami no vacation for Vols
Published: Wed Nov 05, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:34 p.m.