Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Tennessee is coming, just like Mississippi State. State fielded a true SEC defense for years without an offense to go with it. This year alone, the Bulldogs have ridden a slightly above-average offense to a 6-0 start.
They didn't need much to go from the bottom of the SEC to a potential first-place finish in the SEC West.
Tennessee is in the same boat. Almost all the tools are in the shed at UT.
While it may feel like the Vols are years away from success, there is still every reason to believe that Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky will get logged as wins this year.
Yes, it absolutely sucks to be beaten by every ranked team you play for three straight years. There's no sugar-coating that. Kiffin recruited players to suit his system, gave a bunch of players hope for the future and then got the phone call that nobody thought was ever coming.
He left the program in shambles, but the Vols are competitive again. Vanderbilt will fall to Tennessee in regulation this year, not overtime. Kentucky will fall in regulation by a lot more than the three points it won by last year. Missouri will not stand up to the team that Tennessee will field on Nov. 10.
Tennessee is coming, and everyone knows it. They just won't admit it to your face. Tennessee has been on a steady climb for the last three years. The issue is that the program started so low back in '10 that it took three years just to get back to "competitive."
I know this is not a sexy stance on the issue, but it's true. Alabama saw 17 years with zero national championships and only one conference title.
It happens to everyone. Just ask Notre Dame how long it's been since the Irish were 6-0.