Good thing Tennessee's next game will start an hour later than the season opener. Its fans can use the extra time for preparation.
Oregon vs. UT is one of those games in which crowd involvement could play a huge role. For UT's sake, it better play a huge role.
All of the more tangible measuring sticks, such as talent and experience, favor the Ducks. The Vols can only hope to counter that with stadium size, crowd noise and jet lag.
You might regard that as flimsy evidence on which to build a case for an upset at Neyland Stadium on Saturday night. But if you need a favorable witness, I recommend the California Golden Bears of 2006.
Their cross-country September trip was an unmitigated disaster. They ventured east with a top-10 ranking and intentions of taking down Southern California's Pac-10 dynasty by the end of the season.
Neyland Stadium was supposed to be a launching pad. It turned into a crash site.
There's not room here to fully account for all that went wrong for Cal but I can offer a synopsis: Its future NFL tight end (Craig Stevens) got knocked silly on the opening kickoff; its future NFL running back (Marshawn Lynch) was limping by the end of the first quarter; and its future NFL cornerback (Syd'Quan Thompson) could barely stay within shouting distance of UT wide receiver Robert Meachem.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention quarterback Nate Longshore, who was starting his first college game on the road. He played as though he had been introduced to the sport moments before kickoff.
UT fans should be heartened by those memories, because there are striking pregame similarities between that matchup and Saturday's.
Those Vols were coming off a 5-6 season. These Vols were picked to finish as low as fifth in the SEC East.
Oregon and Cal also have plenty in common, starting with their highly acclaimed, offensive-minded head coaches. Four years ago, Cal's Jeff Tedford was supposedly an NFL coach in waiting. Oregon's coach Chip Kelly comes up in almost any discussion of the spread-option offense.
As you could surmise from Oregon's 72-0 victory and school-record 720 yards against New Mexico in Saturday's season opener, it has the same kind of offensive firepower that Cal possessed in 2006.
And it also has a quarterback preparing to make his first college start on the road. Sophomore Darron Thomas, who won the starting job in preseason camp, did just fine in his home opener against New Mexico, which is akin to saying UT's new starting quarterback, Matt Simms, did just fine in his team's 50-0 victory over UT Martin on Saturday night.
As dominant as UT's looked in that victory, you have to question whether it's ready for an offense as talented and balanced as Oregon's. You also have to question if Oregon's offense, especially its quarterback, is ready for the full Neyland Stadium experience.
The sheer height of the stadium is a distraction for first-timers. The sound can be a bigger distraction than the sight, provided, of course, the crowd is fully committed.
UT fans can lose interest or turn downright docile depending on the nature of the opponent or the course of the game. But don't try convincing the 2006 Golden Bears of that. They never heard what hit them while falling behind 35-0.
The Vols and their crowd rarely have been so in sync. They were so together, you couldn't tell who was reacting to whom.
Coaches love to talk about team chemistry. But that victory was as much about team and crowd chemistry. It was a game in which everybody mattered, from the guy behind center to the guys and gals in the upper deck.
Four years later, Oregon will give the Vols and their fans another opportunity to get it together.
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com.