That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger. So said philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
If linebacker Ray Nitschke had applied that to football he would have probably said if you can survive a month-long beating in October you'll live to kick some butts in November.
Tennessee, by all indications, survived its brutal October and came out stronger on the other end.
The indications I speak of are dominating Memphis and Ole Miss by a combined 102-28 the past two Saturdays.
"I was looking at it at the beginning of the season,'' senior defensive end Chris Walker said Saturday. "I don't think anybody has a tougher four-game stretch than we did.
"It was a difficult time for us . . . but those games are what is making us play so well right now. Learning from those mistakes, we're being a better team for it.''
To review October, the Vols were two-touchdown underdogs in all four games.
They nearly pulled the stunning upset at No. 12 LSU, only to be heartbroken - 16-14 - by the awful penalty and subsequent LSU touchdown at the end.
They pretty much self-destructed in a 41-14 drubbing at Georgia.
Next came No. 8 Alabama, in which a 13-10 halftime game became a 41-10 Crimson Tide rout.
Finally, a mistake-filled but competitive 38-24 loss at South Carolina.
When November dawned, the Vols were 2-6 and winless in five SEC tries.
Furthermore, they were undergoing a quarterback change, always a dicey chemistry equation.
Some teams, especially teams on their third head coach in three years, might have splintered and thrown in the towel.
Some teams, especially teams with seniors who still remember playing in the 2007 SEC championship game, might have become frustrated enough to quit.
You might argue that Tennessee's two-game winning streak is strictly a function of playing weaker competition. Memphis is terrible. Ole Miss is making a preseason prediction of a last-place finish in the SEC West ring true.
There's some merit to that, but it doesn't account entirely for the fact that Tennessee has played some good football the past two weeks.
So give Derek Dooley and his staff credit for shepherding a fragile, young, undermanned squad through the Valley of the Shadow of October Football Death.
"Better times weren't going to come in November if we had the wrong approach in October,'' Dooley said Sunday night.
"I always felt I should handle it the way I'd handle any October, and that is to not get 100 percent married to the results.
"The biggest thing is focusing on the process and not defining your entire existence on the results.''
Guess what? Now that good times have replaced hard times, that's still the biggest thing.
The two teams standing between UT and bowl eligibility are Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Vols are a combined 49-1 against those two traditional season-ending rivals the past 25 years.
"You want to feel good because you're winning,'' Dooley said, "but what you hope is that the winning inspires you to work even harder.
"We have to work very hard to make sure we don't take victory and turn it into complacency.''
Complacency can kill you, too.