Right now, it feels pretty good to be a Tennessee Volunteer.
On Sunday, we woke up to the news that Tennessee was ranked No. 23 in both ESPN and the AP polls. This snapped a 64-week streak of not being ranked, dating all the way back to the preseason rankings of 2008.
What a way to start the morning, right? Well the good news piled on, as word came in from Twitter that College Gameday was coming to Knoxville for the Florida game:
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 9, 2012
In what may be the most successful weekend in a long time, Tennessee will have the eyes of the nation upon them as they take on their hated rival in Neyland. The Volunteers haven't felt this much pressure in a long time.
I knew long before this news arose about how important the UF game would be. You see, this isn't just a nationally televised game—this game will decide what the future of the Tennessee Volunteers holds. Essentially, this will be a battle for Derek Dooley's job.
The way I see it, this game will tell us whether or not Dooley can actually field a team worthy of competing in the SEC.
We've all seen how much Florida has struggled versus teams like Texas A&M and Bowling Green. Their quarterback, Jeff Driskel, and the offensive line have been less than stellar these past couple of weeks. Both wins were very close and displayed the weaknesses the Gators have.
There is no reason Tennessee cannot exploit these weaknesses. In addition to an improved defense, we boast a future NFL quarterback, two star wide receivers and a great supporting cast. All of them have been on display versus both NC State and Georgia State.
Tennessee needs a win to mark their resurgence in the SEC East. We don't expect a conference title this year, but we do expect the team to compete in our own division. We have all the tools to do so, the only real question mark is the coaching.
If the Vols can't pull out a win in their own stadium, I will be part of the crowd calling for another head coach.
The seven-year streak has gone on long enough. There is pretty much nothing going against the Volunteers now, so a loss is inexcusable. The only scenario in which Dooley keeps his job after losing to Florida is him pulling off an upset of either Georgia, Alabama or South Carolina.
I'd much rather have us beat Florida then take our chances with those teams.
I really do want Tennessee to win. I want them to beat the Gators on national television and show people that the Volunteers are back.
But that's what I want. Dooley and the Vols need that to happen.
Let's all hope they can do so.