OK, how many of you out there had Tennessee ticketed for 2-3 after the first weekend of October?
Not me. I was down for 4-1, figuring the tough sledding was still to come on the way to 8-4 or 7-5.
I didn't see UCLA coming across three time zones and getting out with a win. My crystal ball didn't portend Auburn as a 5-0 offensive juggernaut that could X-and-O your defense into knots.
Lane Kiffin is still in search of his first win against a BCS opponent. He's also only 2-2 in Neyland Stadium with Georgia on the way Saturday.
Speaking of which, this will be the first meeting between UT and Georgia in which neither team is ranked since 1937, a span of 25 games.
This follows a 26-22 loss to Auburn in which neither the Vols nor Tigers were ranked for the first time since 1982, a span of 16 games.
So, that's one commentary on the state of the union.
Here's another: Georgia won't be intimidated in Neyland Stadium. The Bulldogs got thumped here in 2007 but coach Mark Richt reeled off three consecutive wins in Neyland 2001-05.
It's not exactly sacred ground any more. Starting in 2001, Richt's first season at Georgia, the Vols are 41-17 in Neyland, a 70.7-percent success rate.
A lot of programs would take 71 percent at home but Tennessee shouldn't. Not with all its assets.
The SEC record at home since 2001 is only 20-13, or 60.6 percent. That includes 9-8 since 2005.
But to get back to the moment, 2-3 starts are a novelty at Tennessee, a fact for which the fans should give thanks.
The Vols have started 2-3 only four previous times in the past 30 years. That's in addition to the 0-6 abomination of 1988.
Still, that's where they are and it's no fun. At 2-3, you're far removed from college football's spotlight. What kind of company are you keeping at 2-3?
Here's a stroll around the neighborhood:
Vanderbilt. At least the Vols aren't 0-3 in SEC play.
Mississippi State. Dan Mullen has his first SEC win. Kiffin has to wait until November to play Vandy.
Florida State. Both the Vols and 'Noles are a long way removed from that '98 championship game. At least UT has made the inevitable coaching change.
Washington. An upset of Southern Cal is better than a morale-saving loss at Florida.
Syracuse. Maybe Greg Paulus wouldn't solve UT's quarterback woes. He threw five picks Saturday.
Clemson. After losing to heavy underdog Maryland on Saturday Dabo Swinney reminds Clemson fans of Tommy Bowden.
Maryland. At least the Vols didn't lose at home to MTSU.
Michigan State. Does beating Michigan atone for losing to Central Michigan? Absolutely.
Duke. Was a 34-26 loss to No. 6 Virginia Tech a moral victory that helps recruiting?
Army. Wins over Western Michigan and Ball State. Would be 2-0 in the MAC.
UAB. The Blazers know when to win; they're 2-1 in C-USA.
UTEP. Shocking upset of No. 12 Houston follows a 64-7 loss to Texas. Go figure.
San Diego State. Tyler Bray shouldn't be tempted to re-think his commitment to UT.
New Mexico State. Win at arch-rival New Mexico saves the season. Could any win save UT's season?
UNLV. Six points from being 4-1.
Kent State. Nation's worst third-down converter (17.9 percent).
Western Michigan. Fifteen turnovers already.
What's the one-line sketch of Tennessee? "Quarterback woes hamper Vols,'' perhaps.
Unlike 2009, the previous four 2-3 starts referred to above involved breaking in a new quarterback. Twice, it involved true freshmen, Peyton Manning in 1994 and Casey Clausen in 2000.
Manning and Clausen both ended up righting the ship, playing in a bowl game and putting an 8-4 in the books.
In 1986, sophomore Jeff Francis helped rally the Vols to 7-5, including a bowl win.
You no doubt recall what happened in 2008, Crompton's break-in year. The 2-3 turned into 2-4 and then 5-7.
That's a neighborhood Tennessee wants to escape in 2009. It's looking harder than I thought.
Mike Strange may be reached at email@example.com or 865-342-6276.