Another game against a ranked opponent and another loss for the Vols. As Derek Dooley watched from above, his team came up short once again.
Each time, the script seems to be the same. Tennessee has opportunities throughout the game, but can't deliver in the clutch and takes the loss.
Saturday night was the best opportunity the Vols have had during Derek Dooley's three seasons to pick up a win versus a ranked team. However, they weren't able to, and now the noise is getting a little louder in Knoxville.
Now the Vols are 3-3 and getting set to host the No. 1 team in the country with a trip to South Carolina waiting in the wings after. It's not a very enviable position to be in.
Let's grade the 22 starters for Tennessee.
Bray wasn't anywhere near his typical numbers, going 13-for-24 for 128 yards and two touchdowns. He did have an interception, but it came in the waning seconds of the first half on a prayer down the sideline. The Mississippi State defense did a nice job of containing the Volunteers passing game.
Tyler did get banged up in the second half, but gutted out the rest of the game. It looked like he was going to get another opportunity to lead a game-winning drive, but it was taken away from him by the final touchdown.
The Vols lost Neal on the opening drive of the second half. Prior to that, the junior was having a nice night. He finished with 51 yards on 11 touches and a touchdown.
Tennessee had a good night on the ground with 213 rushing yards. Too bad Neal wasn't on the field for much of the second half to contribute.
The Tennessee running game put up 213 yards, and Bartholomew actually caught a pass for a touchdown as well.
There isn't really anything more the Vols could ask for from their fullback.
This game was tabbed as an opportunity to put the Tennessee wide receivers up against the Mississippi State secondary.
Hunter finished with just two catches for 41 yards. The play that stands out the most from Hunter's night was a pass that he alligator-armed.
Everyone knows Hunter is a terrific player, but he didn't play much of a factor on Saturday night.
The only reason this isn't a resounding A is because Patterson wasn't much of a factor in the passing game, catching just two passes for 25 yards. One of those catches was a touchdown, though.
With the Vols trailing 17-7 early in the game, Patterson took a kickoff 98 yards back to the house. It was the first kickoff return for the Vols since 2004.
On the first play of the second half, Patterson took a handoff and turned a loss into a 34-yard gain. He picked up 57 yards on three carries.
Even in the loss, Patterson showed he was the most explosive player on the field.
Rivera had just one catch on the night for seven yards, so he wasn't much of a factor in the passing game. However, he was a part of the blocking group that paved the way for the rushing attack to gain over 200 yards.
The Vols rushed for over 200 yards, and Tyler Bray was never sacked. Mississippi State was able to get a little pressure on the quarterback, but he had time to throw most of the night.
It wasn't just that the offensive line opened up holes for the running backs, but the ground attack continued in the second half with both Raijon Neal and Marlin Lane out of the game with injuries.
Stone seems completely moved on from the snapping problems of last season. Plus, he's doing a great job handling the calls at the line and is becoming an asset for this group.
The offense wasn't the problem for the Vols in Starkville. The offensive line continues to get better each time out. Their play has been a great surprise this season.
The Vols were strong on the ground again. They will be greatly tested over the next two games, though, as they take on Alabama and South Carolina, two of the top defenses in the country.
Sentimore had one of two sacks on the night for the Tennessee defense. That was his only tackle of the night, though.
He has flashes of being very good, but then disappears at other times. Tennessee is still searching for consistency from the lineman.
The goal was to let McCullers play as many snaps as he could Saturday night, and he handled it well. He's proving that he doesn't have to be a run-only player.
He made four tackles on the night, but Tennessee gave up way too much on the ground.
Couch was quiet for most of the night, recording just two tackles. Tennessee really struggled to put any kind of pressure on Tyler Russell, and it allowed him to pick apart the Vols all night long.
Smith was one of the few defenders that actually had a decent night. He recorded a sack on a play where he looked like the 5-star recruit the Vols were expecting when he signed with them. He also had four of the seven quarterback hurries on the night as well.
Maggitt wasn't involved much Saturday night. He didn't see much time in practice over the last two weeks dealing with turf toe. The Tennessee defense isn't very good at full strength, much less when one of its better players isn't at 100 percent.
Johnson was absolutely everywhere on Saturday night. He was credited with 21 tackles! The only problem was that most of those tackles came after the Bulldogs had gained a chunk of yards.
Johnson wasn't perfect in the game, but he did a lot of good things.
A.J. Johnson may have been the first one to a lot of the tackles, but Lathers wasn't far behind. The senior linebacker was credited with 12 tackles of his own.
The Vols have a lot of defensive issues to work on still, and 33 tackles from just two linebackers helps illustrate that.
The Tennessee defense allowed over 300 yards passing. Not all of that is on the secondary, though. Tennessee failed to get any kind of a pass rush, and Tyler Russell had all day to throw. However, the secondary does get some of the blame.
Coleman made nine tackles on the night and also broke up two passes.
Moore made 10 tackles in the game, but fans are going to remember the play he didn't make most. He made a perfect read on a throw from Russell and had it in his hands going the other way. However, he couldn't hold onto it, and a game-changing moment went by the wayside.
This was the first career start for the freshman. He was able to make eight tackles and break up a pass. Through two games of extended playing time, one thing is for sure about the safety: He plays with reckless abandon and doesn't shy away from contact.
Waggner hasn't had quite the impact that many Tennessee fans were hoping for. They are still waiting for the big plays of previous years to show up. The secondary still has a lot of holes to fill and two pretty good offenses on the schedule the next two weeks.