While I usually wait until the last minute to pack for trips, this time I'm starting 33 days in advance.
That's 33 days in advance of the SEC Championship, where Tennessee will be playing in its most important game since its 2001 SEC-title loss to LSU.
Now, my assistant - Wes Todd - is about to once again start yelling at me for looking ahead. He often says my words are a jinx.
Considering the Vols still have to play at Vanderbilt and at home against Kentucky, you could say he's right. But considering the Vols still have to just play at Vanderbilt and at home against Kentucky, I say they're a shoe-in.
Here's my point: If UT had nothing to play for against VU or UK, I could see an upset. But a rematch with what could be an undefeated and top-ranked Auburn team will be on the line.
And if the often-asinine words of a 23-year-old kid can cause a top-10 football team to lose against either the lowly Commodores or the maybe-even-lowlier Wildcats, then I need to rethink my beliefs about how this world works.
But I have at least one opinion about the World of Tennessee Football that I don't need to rethink: If the Vols don't find a Brent Schaeffer-like spark against Notre Dame on Saturday or against Auburn on Dec. 4, the Vols will lose.
Before going down with a broken collarbone in the third quarter of Tennessee's 43-29 win at South Carolina on Saturday, Schaeffer saved Erik Ainge and the rest of his team.
I thought his play perfectly exemplified a statement recently posted about UT football on Collegefootballnews.com:
"Fulmer's Tennessee teams often start slow, but if they manage to find just one little spark, they turn it into a raging bonfire of bad-ass boldness that quickly overwhelms the opposition."
Schaeffer was the spark. The second-half Vol offense was the raging bonfire.
But in the first quarter, the offense didn't even look strong enough to rub two sticks together.
And Erik Ainge - who has sometimes resembled Peyton Manning - looked more like Ryan Leaf in the first quarter. He looked as bad as he did in a 34-10 loss to Auburn.
And if it happens again, he won't have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the country to bail him out.
Or, what if he gets the wind knocked out of him and he has to sit out an entire quarter against Notre Dame or Auburn?
After remembering disasters during this millenium against LSU, Maryland and Clemson in that very building, I refuse to travel three hours to Atlanta to watch another Clausen under center for the fourth year in a row.
- Matt Giles is the sports editor of The Daily Beacon and a senior in journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Injury hurts SEC title hopes
Published: Tue Nov 02, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:32 p.m.