You proudly predicted Tennessee would beat Florida by two touchdowns in The Swamp and end the six-game losing streak to the Gators.
    
You got giddy envisioning Tyler Bray in New York City calmly accepting the Heisman Trophy after throwing for 4,500 yards and 50 touchdowns.
   
 You almost felt embarrassed, but still confident, for thinking that Tennessee had a really good shot at winning its first SEC East title since 2007.
   
 You got a little ahead of yourself.
    
The past few years in Tennessee football have been interesting to say the least. They’re without a doubt different than fans are used to, mostly for undesirable reasons.
    
Before 2005, the Vols hadn’t had a losing season since 1988. They only had a total of eight losing seasons since joining the SEC in 1933. They only had 10 different head coaches.
    
Including 2005, there have been three losing seasons since, one bowl win and three coaches.
    
Last year was the first time in a very, very long time you had to go into the season accepting the fact that Tennessee wasn’t going to beat Florida, Georgia or Alabama, or even get to a winning record.
    
For a program that was the nation’s winningest of the past 75 years less than a decade ago, things are very different right now. It’s been rough.
   
 It’s only understandable that with the first legitimate glimmer of hope on the horizon, you’d reach, even if it was a little too far, and hold on for dear life. And now you’re feeling foolish and disappointed.
    
Don’t.
    
Yes, you found out the Vols still have some work to do after the 33-23 loss to the No. 16 Gators. Tyler Bray made a few mistakes that you hoped he had left back in 2010. Tauren Poole only averaged two yards a carry for a total of 18.
    
But there were also some good takeaways.
    
Tennessee’s biggest question mark, the defense, stepped up against the best team it’s seen this season, holding Florida to 4-of-13 efficiency on third downs. Take away Chris Rainey’s 83-yard touchdown that came off a 3-yard checkdown pass, and the Gators had 264 yards in the air.
    
After Justin Hunter, Tennessee’s leading receiver and one of college football’s best athletes, went out in the opening drive with an ACL tear and did not return, tight end Mychal Rivera stepped up for a career-high 71 yards and a touchdown. The offense put up 23 points on a Florida defense that had only allowed a field goal in the previous two games.
    
For a lot of the Vols, it was their first trip to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, one of the tougher places to play in college sports. Still, they competed, even after going down 30-7 with eight minutes left in the third quarter. No one would have been shocked if they had thrown in the towel and said, “Maybe next year,” but they didn’t.
    
So while you’re bummed that the Volunteer glory of the past didn’t return like you hoped, and now that you have the bye week to mull on the loss, take solace in the fact that your faith wasn’t completely misplaced. Know that good things are happening with this program.
   
 No matter what anyone tells you, it’s better to be optimistic than not, especially when you have a front-row ticket to watch the sun rise on that horizon.