KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The stage is now set: Tennessee is back in the SEC East race.

It still needs help, but not nearly as much as it when it woke up Saturday morning.

Assisted by Arkansas defeating Florida, the Vols can see Atlanta in the horizon. The easy path there: win their remaining games and have the Gators lose just once more, to South Carolina or at LSU.

The Vols close the regular season with home games against Kentucky and Missouri and end the regular season in Nashville against Vanderbilt.

It’s time for Tennessee to “Own It” – which just happens to be Team 120’s slogan.

Even after a disastrous loss at South Carolina a week ago, the Vols still have their goal of winning the East in front of them.

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Tennessee sports betting officially launched on November 1, 2020. Tennessee was the first SEC state to legalize sports betting.

In order to sweep the remaining three SEC games, Tennessee must replicate Saturday’s performance: start fast and play four quarters of complete football.

Although Saturday’s 55-0 drubbing was against FCS Tennessee Tech, the complete game shutout might have been what Team 120 needed. This game was a cleansing of sorts, an opportunity to hit re-set after the Jalen Hurd saga.

“Losing one guy during a week isn’t big enough to throw off this team,” quarterback Josh Dobbs said. “We’re a mentally tough team, and we’re focused on the task at hand. We know we need each and every person on this team to be successful.”

Over the past month, Team 120 has been lethargic, uninspired, banged up and divided. It looked anything but that Saturday.

The Vols looked inspired and together on the sideline, and on the field for 60 minutes.

“We need to learn from these lessons,” Butch Jones said of the week Team 120 had. “We have to be a team that plays with great passion and energy. We have to be a football team that prepares the way we prepared this week. It began with the mindset of our players. They were disappointed with the outcome of our performance last week. The great thing about sports is that you get an opportunity to prove yourself.

“Everyone was very disappointed, but instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they came in with a mental focus and a mindset to get better. Our energy was consistent across the board the whole week from everyone in our football family. We have to be that type of football team. Now, how do we learn from that moving forward into next week?”

Next week is here, and Kentucky is the opponent – an opponent that cannot be taken lightly. Kentucky still has a chance to win the East, too. And with the sense of rejuvenation in the locker room, Team 120 has the talent and ability to take care of the Wildcats.

The Vols have moved on from Hurd. They’re not concerned with who was to blame for his departure. The mutual decision to part ways might have been the best remedy for this team to salvage their goal of winning the SEC East.

“That was one of the most spirited celebrations that we have had in our locker room,” Jones said of the Tennessee Tech victory that ended a long week on Rocky Top. “That is a byproduct of the investment of everyone in our football program. Everyone brought it.

“We had great energy and practices and competed throughout the course of the week. Now, we need to learn from it and move on.”