The Tennessee football team celebrated its eighth consecutive victory against Georgia on Oct. 13, 1999, putting the finishing touches on the Bulldogs with a 100-yard Leonard Scott kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
Less than a year removed from the a BCS national title, the Vols moved up to No. 5 in the rankings after the victory. Tennessee proceeded to top Alabama in Tuscaloosa the following week and missed another SEC championship-game appearance only by an upset loss at Arkansas late in the season.
But the rainy day on a sloshy field at Neyland Stadium was the Vols' last victory against the Bulldogs for a while. Since that day, the Vols have lost eight of 12, including four in a row 2000-2003.
The 1990s were a decade of dominance for former coach Phillip Fulmer and Tennessee, but new coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs have turned the
tables in the new millennium.
More important than bragging rights, the wins represented a significant shift in the balance of power in the SEC East that persists today.
The Vols (3-1, 0-1 SEC) will be 14-point underdogs when they play at No. 5 Georgia (4-0, 2-0) on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.) in Athens.
The landscape of the SEC East is dramatically different from what it was in the 1990s. South Carolina won more than six games only once in the 1990s and finished the decade by losing 20 of 21 games. Now, the Gamecocks haven't had a losing record since 2003, won 11 games in 2011 and are ranked No. 6 this season.
Florida, despite a few hiccups in the post-Spurrier era, won national titles in 2006 and 2008 and is piling up top recruiting classes under second-year coach Will Muschamp.
But Georgia's transformation has been perhaps the most dramatic in the East. Longtime coach Vince Dooley retired after the 1988 season, shortly after winning his 200th game. Ray Goff, like many coaches who step in to replace a legend, struggled to match his legacy. The Bulldogs went 27-28-1 in the SEC, winning more than four league games in a season only once in seven years under Goff.
The record was better under Jim Donnan, but the Bulldogs never won the SEC East in five years. Richt is 110-38 overall and 62-28 in his 12th year with the Bulldogs. He has won or tied for the East title five times.
So where does that leave Tennessee in this dramatically different SEC East? Rebuilding the program from the drop-off that started in 2008 will be considerably tougher, because there are more teams to fight through to get to the top.
But even in the post-2000 drought against Georgia, there have been big wins and upsets. The Vols beat Georgia 45-19 in Lane Kiffin's only season as head coach (45-19, 2009) and won back-to-back games under Fulmer in 2006 (51-33) and 2007 (35-14).
Richt reminded players this week of the 2004 game, when the undefeated and third-ranked Bulldogs were beaten by No. 17 Tennessee in Athens, 19-14.
"I told them that this situation just reminded me of that season," Richt said. "Tennessee came in with a freshman quarterback (Erik Ainge) and beat us, and I wanted to help them understand it could happen and that we better get our minds right. We better prepare just as hard or harder than the week before."
UT coach Derek Dooley said he doesn't burden players with the past.
"This is a new football team," said Dooley. "This football team is not going to be held hostage for the things that have gone on in the last four years at Tennessee and the last two years that I have been here, because it's a new team. We have embraced that ... Our team is going to be confident and I expect them to play their best."
A resurgence by Tennessee could also help equal the scales between the East and West; the West has won four of the past five BCS national titles with Alabama, LSU and Auburn. Conventional wisdom suggests the West is the league's stronger half in football after spending much of the past two decades dwarfed by East. But that no longer appears so obvious.
"We felt like we had some very outstanding teams in the East," Richt said, "and so far they are proving it."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.