Enough talking about whether Texas is back.
Time to talk about whether Tennessee and Miami are back!
Like the Longhorns, the Volunteers and Hurricanes are programs with national championship pedigrees that have been lost in the college football wilderness for about two decades, searching for past glory and relevance.
Both are showing early season signs of being dark horse contenders in their conferences and face foes Saturday who are where they aspire to be.
The 14th-ranked Volunteers are at No. 3 Georgia and No. 7 Miami visits No. 1 Clemson.
The Vols faithful are as hopeful as they have been in years. Tennessee has won eight straight games, the longest active streak in the Southeastern Conference. That streak includes zero victories against ranked teams, but this is a program that is on its fourth coach since it last had a double-digit win season (2007).
Jeremy Pruitt’s progress has been good enough to earn 15 victories and a contract extension two games into his third season. The Volunteers look like a very different team under Pruitt than they ever did for his predecessor. Butch Jones was 13-14 in his first 27 games with the Volunteers and headed toward the first of two consecutive nine-win seasons. Pruitt is now 15-12.
Yearly games against Alabama and Georgia have been stark reminders of how far the Volunteers have to go to get back to the national championship contention days of the late 1990s. The Bulldogs have won the last three meetings 122-26.
“We’ve continued to improve over the last three years,” Pruitt said. “We’re nowhere near where we want to be.”
Miami’s last national championship was in 2001. Since then, it has won just one Atlantic Coast Conference division title, back in 2017. That surprising run to playoff contention and No. 2 in the