From USA Today
Peyton Manning spent so many days trying to block out all of his feelings, ignore all of the outside chatter that filled the newspaper pages and Twitter feeds and radio waves, and pretend that somehow, he could walk into Lucas Oil Stadium like it was just any other stadium, on any other Sunday.
But for 90 seconds just before kickoff Sunday night, the roar of the crowd was too loud to ignore. Manning removed his helmet, raised his right hand to wave, and slowly turned to acknowledge the fans in every corner of this stadium that he used to call home.
From the Times Free Press
Tennessee’s defense was a disaster last season, statistically the worst in the program’s long history.
That was last year.
The Volunteers by no stretch have an elite defense, but the unit has made clear improvements from 2012 and has played better the past two games than it did in the first month of the season.
In 2012, Tennessee surrendered 89 points to Georgia and South Carolina in a pair of high-scoring losses, but the Vols played the banged-up Bulldogs tough before holding South Carolina 102 yards below its season average in Saturday’s 23-21 upset victory.
From Bleacher Report
As Tennessee’s football team stormed the field for the celebration dog pile, all the pain and frustration from two failed coaching changes and five forgettable seasons stayed on the sideline.
With more than 250 former Volunteers in Neyland Stadium for “Vol For Life Day,” UT rekindled some of that old glory, making crucial plays to upset South Carolina, 23-21. Michael Palardy’s 19-yard field goal split the uprights as time expired to erase years of disappointment.
Butch Jones, that bricklayer extraordinaire who also coaches a little football at Tennessee, promised there would be days like this when he took the job.
Of course, when the bottom falls out of a program the way it has at Tennessee over the past few years, days like this probably seem a lot closer to fantasy than they do reality for even the most orange-blooded fans.
But not Saturday and not with this Tennessee team, or, as Jones refers to it, “Team 117.”
This was as real as it gets, and the Vols’ march back to relevance suddenly seems a lot more realistic after their last-second 23-21 victory over No. 11 South Carolina, setting off the kind of joyous scene in Neyland Stadium that was once the rule in these parts.
Jones, whose brick-by-brick mantra has taken hold on Rocky Top, chest-bumped everybody in sight, from his players, to Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart, to “Duck Dynasty” star Justin Martin.