The Tennessee Volunteers are heading into a vital bye week after a tough loss at Georgia. The week off precedes a game at Mississippi State that is perhaps the most important in terms of the future of the program since 2007's thrilling overtime victory against Kentucky that sent the Vols to the SEC Championship.
In other words, this bye is crucial!
The 20th-ranked Bulldogs are much improved due to the arrival of Dan Mullen, going 25-17 since 2009, including a great 4-0 start this year. There is, however, no question that Tennessee has faced far greater adversity than Mississippi State already this season.
If the Volunteers can leverage that experience into stronger defense, improved turnover efficiency and gritty mental toughness, they can win their first game as an underdog (I predict) under Derek Dooley. A loss potentially paves the way for another winless October.
So what does the team have to do make sure that doesn't happen? Here are five things...