The Big Orange proved to be nothing more than an ingredient in a big bowl of duck soup Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.
I thought Tennessee's football team would be outclassed by Oregon. But I never thought it would be that outclassed. I thought Justin Worley would miss a few open receivers due to the pressure of playing on the road against the second-ranked team in America. But I never thought he'd miss that many. I thought the Ducks' team speed would make Tennessee look slow but I never thought the Vols would look that slow.
Bottom line: I figured Saturday's outcome would be bad for the Vols but it was worse. Much worse. Clearly, Oregon is a magnificent football team but Tennessee's performance ranks with the lamest I've seen in three decades spent covering the Vols. The 59-14 final score easily could've been 73-7 if Mark Helfrich hadn't pulled his starters in the third quarter.
Thanks to some early breaks Tennessee led 7-3 nine minutes into the game. What happened over the next 51 minutes, however, can only be described as a melt-down of epic proportions. The Ducks rallied like champions and the Vols self-destructed.
Tennessee's defense surrendered 471 passing yards and 687 total yards, meaning the Vols barely offered token resistance. Worse, Oregon scored touchdowns on eight consecutive possessions, with the last TD being tacked on by second-teamers.
Tennessee clearly isn't as good as it looked in its 52-20 Game 2 spanking of Western Kentucky. Fans can only hope the Vols aren't as bad as they looked in their Game 3 beat-down by Oregon.
Time will tell.
The big picture
The good news: It was only one game. Tennessee still can bounce back and have a solid season. The bad news: If this game was any indication, Tennessee has just one sure win left on the schedule ... Sept. 28 against South Alabama.
Another positive: If he didn't know before, Butch Jones now fully recognizes what a mess he inherited from predecessors Derek Dooley and Lane Kiffin.
Players of the game
Marlin Lane. The Vols' junior running back rushed 13 times for 62 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and caught two passes for another 16 yards. He seemed to get the yards his line provided, plus a few extra on his own.
Not applicable. When you get shredded the way Tennessee did there is no justification for naming a defensive player of the game.
Florida (Sept. 21 in Gainesville): The Gators (1-1) enjoyed an open date Saturday after losing 21-16 at Miami last weekend.