Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
That's the welcome sign to Hell in Dante's 14th-Century work Inferno.
Lately, it's also believed to be the inscription on the visitors' locker room at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
On the surface, Tennessee wouldn't appear to have much hope Saturday night when it takes on No. 2 Alabama. The predicted script is Act II of the Vols' 38-7 loss to No. 1 LSU.
"All right, on to 'Bama," UT coach Derek Dooley said Saturday, concluding his thoughts on the LSU game. It didn't come across as a battle cry.
So who, at this humbled juncture in UT football history, could blame the Vols or their fans for viewing the coming trip with weary resignation?
And yet ...
The last time Tennessee visited Tuscaloosa, things weren't going so swell, either.
The Vols have been through so much turmoil it seems longer than two years ago that they came within a sickening blocked field goal of upsetting the No. 1-ranked and eventual national champion Crimson Tide.
Goliath survived, 12-10, but a feisty David very nearly carried the day.
How did it happen? And could it possibly happen again?
First, the comparisons between the state of things in 2009 and 2011.
Alabama doesn't appear to be much different. The Tide defense is as good as any in the nation. There is a Heisman Trophy candidate, Trent Richardson, at tailback to carry the offensive load and an unspectacular but efficient quarterback.
The Vols are still in heavy-underdog mode. They can't match Alabama's strength, depth or talent.
The amazing thing about the 2009 game is that the stats say it was no fluke.
Unlike the near-upset at LSU last fall, Alabama didn't sabotage itself with four turnovers. It lost only one, Heisman winner Mark Ingram's late fumble.
The Vols outgained Alabama by nearly 100 yards, 341-246.
They won time of possession, 32:18 to 27:42. In the second half, UT held the ball 20:53 to Alabama's 9:06.
And they did it with an offensive line that started a true freshman, Aaron Douglas, and two undersized former walk-ons, the Sullins twins.
Monte Kiffin's defense kept Alabama out of the end zone all day. The Tide was 4-for-4 on field goals to Tennessee's 1-for-4.
But looking closer, I'm not sure Tennessee has enough ingredients to stare Alabama in the eye for four quarters like Lane Kiffin's team did.
The '09 Vols could run the ball with at least modest conviction. They rushed for at least 115 yards in every game prior to Alabama and finished the season at 157 per game. Montario Hardesty averaged 103 yards a game.
Quarterback Jonathan Crompton, like Matt Simms, was a senior. He had 13 starts when he faced 'Bama. Simms will have nine, but only one this season. Crompton rose to the occasion that day, passing for 265 yards.
Defensively, the biggest difference is in the secondary. The 2009 Vols had Eric Berry, Janzen Jackson and Dennis Rogan.
The front seven, you could argue either way. Dan Williams was a run-stuffer in '09 but the 2011 linebackers are bigger.
Tennessee hanging tough to the final gun on Saturday would be an even bigger surprise than it was two years ago.
But keeping '09 in mind, there's no reason to completely abandon hope.