As Tennessee walked off the field following its 34-31 overtime loss to Georgia, there were nothing but tears.
Tears from players, tears from fans, tears over what might have been.
The Vols had a chance to erase five miserable years of football, but one play ended that dream and added another black mark to a dismal resume.
In overtime, with Tennessee driving, running back Pig Howard rushed right and dove for the pylon. The ball slipped out of his hands, rolled into the end zone and out of bounds.
What should have been a touchdown to put the Vols ahead ended up a touchback that Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan ultimately turned into a game-winning field goal.
It was as heartbreaking a loss as any in the past half decade for Tennessee because the Vols had the game won. They stormed back from a 17-3 halftime deficit and took a brief 31-24 lead with less than 3 minutes remaining. But Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray – as he did last week against LSU – worked his magic and marched the Bulldogs down the field for the game-tying score.
That should have deflated Tennessee's hopes for an upset, but they were fierce in overtime. They got into scoring position relatively easily and it was Howard extra effort to get the Vols the win that cost them the game.
So where does Tennessee go from here?
The Vols drop to 3-3, but none of those three wins are against good opponents. It’s good and bad Tennessee has a bye next week. Good because they can regroup from this loss, but bad because they have an extra week to dwell on it before facing South Carolina.
If Tennessee did teach us anything, it’s that conference play is hard. Many believed Georgia was just going to coast through the rest of its schedule following last week’s dramatic win over LSU.
And Tennessee has put the conference on notice that it’s getting better and it’s going to put up a fight.