Since the turn of the century, the Tennessee Volunteers have won 103 contests.
None of those victories, however, have come against the Auburn Tigers.
In fact, the last time the program defeated the Tigers, was Oct. 2, 1999, when Tee Martin was under center for the Vols and Jamal Lewis was carrying defenders on his back.
While the 1998 national champion quarterback won't be running out of the tunnel to lead the offense when the No. 9 Tigers come to Knoxville this Saturday, true freshman Josh Dobbs will.
The 18-year-old, who has drawn comparisons to the Tennessee idol, will be making his second career start after a 26-for-42, 240-yard performance against Missouri last Saturday to go along with a team-high 45 yards on seven carries, including a 33-yard run that was the longest rush for a UT quarterback since Martin back in 1999.
With that said, the first career start for Dobbs was far from perfect, as not only did the Vols lose 31-3, but the freshman also turned the ball over three times, throwing two picks and a fumbling on a crucial possession late in the second quarter.
"Every time I step on the field I have to make sure I'm being smart and protecting the football," Dobbs said Tuesday in his first meeting with UT media. "Coach always says that the football holds our goals, dreams and aspirations, so we just got to be smart with the football and just finish drives as a team. We have to cut down on the little mistakes and focus in on the details."
No matter how well the highly-touted signal caller plays, the Vols will have a minimal chance of pulling off an upset if Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal combine for 45 yards on 14 carries like they did last Saturday on Faurot Field.
To avoid a repeat of the performance, UT's offensive line will need to have to bounce back on Saturday and return to dominating the line of scrimmage.
A week of full-padded practice, a decision that was voted on by the player staff and upheld by head coach Butch Jones, should help the offensive line – as well as the rest of the team – be physically prepared for Saturday's contest.
"He basically told us that we didn't play our brand of football out there, and we're not going to represent Tennessee like that," senior center James Stone said. "We're not going to go out there and continue to represent Tennessee that way like we did Saturday night, especially on the line of scrimmage.
"That's another one of the reasons for getting back to the practices, getting more physical and everybody recommitting and focusing on this process and finishing these last three games strong."
While Deon Grant and a three-interception performance like the one he registered in UT's win over Auburn in 1999 would be a welcome sight, the defense should be more concerned with containing Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall who, along with running back Tre Mason, has created a potent ground attack for the Tigers in 2013.
In order to prepare for the talented option signal caller, the Vols have incorporated defensive back and track star Michael F. Williams into the scout team offense to try and replicate Marshall's athleticism.
"He's one of the fastest people on our team," said sophomore safety Brian Randolph. "He runs track, so it's a good look. He was trying to get the ball to the edge, and he did a good job with it."
In terms of the actual Marshall, defensive coordinator John Jancek added: "He's really good. He has excellent body control and great change of direction. He's a guy that can run physical and make you miss. You've got to get a lot of guys to get him on the ground."
Following two disappointing road matchups that saw UT get outscored 76-13, the Vols are excited to get back into Neyland Stadium, where they were able to take down a ranked opponent – then-No. 11 South Carolina – the last time they played at home on Oct. 19.
"It will help momentum," sophomore wide receiver Alton "Pig" Howard said. "Everybody has a home-field advantage – the intensity and energy that's going to be created. On the road you have to create your own energy when you're in a hostile environment. It will be an advantage to us. We have to take advantage of it and play hard."
Tennessee and Auburn will kick off at noon on ESPN.