For better and worse, Tennessee's wild victory against Troy on Saturday will always dot the record books.
The Vols' offense and quarterback Tyler Bray set records for production, while the defense set records for futility in a season that has already seen a lot of it.
The 55-48 victory was much better than the alternative — a stunning upset defeat — as coach Derek Dooley and players noted after the game. But it raised plenty of questions about the direction Tennessee must take in its three final regular-season games.
If Tennessee is going to beat Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, are the Vols going to have to win it like this? Can they?
The Vols (4-5, 0-5 SEC) play Missouri (4-5, 1-5) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.)
While the Vols were contending with Troy, Missouri lost to Florida
14-7 in a game at Gainesville that looked nothing like Tennessee's slugfest.
Missouri and Florida combined for 611 yards. Troy and Tennessee each had more than that alone, and combined for 1,439.
Tennessee's defensive woes were due in part to two longtime culprits — big plays and maddening inefficiency on third down.
Troy converted 10 of 19 third-down opportunities, many on third-and-long, keeping the defense on the field for 99 plays and 37 minutes of possessions.
It was hard to find fault in the Vols' offense, of course. But in the past, Dooley has told the offense to tap the brakes a bit to ease the pressure on the defense.
Dooley didn't do that on Saturday, and the resulting performance can be interpreted in two ways. Is it important to give the offense free rein to batter opposing defenses, giving the Vols the best chance to outscore opponents? Or must the offense be adjusted to help the struggling defense?
"I never said (to slow down) because, man, I just felt like they could never stop us," Dooley said. "You know, early in the game, I thought we could just pull away. But we never really could because every time we'd (score), they'd come back."
Because there was so much scoring on Saturday, it's easy to forget that Tennessee led 28-10 in the second quarter and seemed on the verge of putting the game away.
The dreaded third downs were the culprit again for the defense. Facing third-and-12 from deep in its territory, Troy receiver Chandler Worthy caught a 37-yard pass that kept the drive alive.
The Trojans scored five times on their next five possessions, all drives of longer than 60 yards.
"It was ridiculous," Dooley said. "Well, we play cover-two, they hand it off and we have nobody can tackle the guy. The linebacker can't get off the blocks. The D-line can't get off the block, and the safeties don't see it quick enough. We play cover-one, three deep, they throw it over our corner's head."
Dooley sighed as he repeated Troy's total offensive output, 721 yards.
"That's a big number," Dooley said.
It's not one that the Vols want to see again.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.