Home away from home

Tennessee has won 15 consecutive football games in Nashville, and the Vols hope to make it 16 straight when they face North Carolina in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 at LP Field.

Granted, 14 of those 15 victories came against Vanderbilt with just one win coming at the expense of someone else. That was the 2002 opener, which saw the Vols post a 47-7 drubbing of Wyoming at LP Field (then known as Adelphia Coliseum). The Vols also beat Vandy at Adelphia in 2000 and 2002. Tennessee's other 12 wins against the Commodores in Nashville since '82 occurred at Dudley Field.

Regardless, the Big Orange hasn't lost at Nashville since 1982, which qualifies it as Tennessee's unofficial home away from home. That bodes well for the Vols as they prepare to face North Carolina two weeks from today.

"We talked about it as a team: It's probably going to be like a home game to us," senior tight end Luke Stocker said this week. "That's kind of what we're anticipating. We hope to have a great turnout from our fans, and we think we will. That's huge for us as players, when you feed off of their energy."

Junior tailback Tauren Poole touched on the same theme.

"It is like a home game for us," he noted. "Vol fans travel, so there's going to be a lot of our fans there. We're in Tennessee, and we appreciate the support. It's definitely a great opportunity for us to show the state of Tennessee what we all worked for. We're excited about it, ready to go."

First-year head coach Derek Dooley was shocked by the number of orange-clad fans filling the stands when Tennessee played at Memphis on Nov. 6 and at Vanderbilt on Nov. 20. He expects a similar sea of orange at LP Field on Dec. 30.

"Every stadium that we've been to in the state, when we run out of the tunnel it's like we took our show on the road because of the Tennessee fans," Dooley said. "They've been incredible. I know it's going to be a great showing by our fans this game."

That kind of crowd support should benefit the 6-6 Vols as they try to close the 2010 season with a five-game winning streak and a winning record.

"It's huge," senior linebacker Nick Reveiz said. "It's no secret that we were rooting to go to Nashville and stay in-state. Obviously, playing in Nashville is a huge advantage to us."

Still, it will take more than substantial crowd support for Tennessee to beat a good North Carolina team two weeks hence.

"Playing in Nashville helps," Reveiz said. "At the same time, the field's still the same length and it's still a 60-minute game, so it's not going to change the way North Carolina comes out and plays. We know they're a great team and they're going to be a great challenge for us."

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