Absolutely huge day today for Tennessee sports. First, the Tennessee basketball team heads to Memphis to take on the Tigers at 4:00 EST, then, at 7:30 EST, the football team plays the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. We'll have game threads up for each of them, so be sure to join us for those. And because such a day requires vacationing from vacation, we'll even kick things off with a Talking Points, albeit a little late, as I'm on both Central and Vacation time.
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL: TENNESSEE-VIRGINIA TECH
- Montario Hardesty needs only 156 yards tonight to set Tennessee's single-season rushing record. Eric Berry needs only eight interception return yards to set the all-time major college NCAA record. Get both those things and a win against both the Hokies and the Tigers, and all of us at RTT are going to retire on top. Don't worry; we'll un-retire in January. It's the way of the world.
- Lane Kiffin, known for doing things differently, is eschewing all of the traditional motivational ploys for the bowl game. Springboard into next season? Naw. Conference pride? Nope. Getting UT back into the Top 25? Uh-huh. Beating the No. 11 Hokies is reward enough, says Kiffin.
To finish winning four out of the last five games, to win our last four SEC East games to finish second in the East, then to come in to what I would consider a BCS bowl and playing a top-11 opponent that's been to the Orange Bowl the last two years in a row, won the Orange Bowl a year ago and only had one player drafted off that team, it shows you how talented this team is that we're going to play [today].The players, though, aren't buying it, and most are saying that getting the win and the probable consequent Top 25 ranking will be taken as tangible evidence that their hard work this season of turning the program around is taking hold.
We'll have our work cut out for us, of course, especially on special teams and against Tech's defense, which appears to lack a soft underbelly, even with the absence of cornerback Stephan Virgil, who's academically ineligible. At least Tennessee is at full strength (duplicate link).
- Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer says Tennessee is "one of the best -- if not the best -- teams in the SEC." (Duplicate link) Yeah, he said that.
- GVX makes its list of the decade's best wins and worst losses in Tennessee football. They also make a list of the biggest stories of the decade and put Fulmer's ouster at the top.