The trek from the Neyland Stadium press box to the media center where post game interviews occur is a lengthy, usually routine haul.

But on Saturday – moments after UT dropped a 34-31 overtime thriller to No. 6 Georgia – the elevator transported riders from one world to another.

In the cushy press box high above Shields-Watkins Field, cheering is an offense that warrants ejection from the premises, so things remain fairly calm at all times.

Media are separated from the emotion of what is occurring by a nearly sound proof set of windows that provide a relatively solemn working environment.

But once the game concludes, reporters stream to the elevators, which take them to the main concourse for them to fight through the exiting crowd and navigate their way to a room designated for interviews.

It's a noticeable transition – even after lesser games – to step from quiet, luxury seating back into to the masses.

On Saturday, the elevator took me to the scene of a tragedy unlike anything I've seen in my time at UT.

Fans remained at their seats, staring lifelessly onto the field, where just minutes before, UT seemed on the verge of breaking a curse-like streak of 18 – now 19 – losses to ranked opponents.

One young boy adorning a gray Vols jersey fought tears and pushed away the consoling hand of his mother.

Even older UT fans, those in their 60s and 70s who have witnessed the rise to ascension and subsequent downward spiral of the program firsthand, stood and watched the field, dazed by what just occurred.

That's because once a third quarter field goal try by Georgia's Marshall Morgan clanged off the upright to keep UT afloat, a sellout crowd seemingly made an emotional investment in the game.

Considering the repeated gut-wrenching losses that UT football has suffered since 2009, it truly is remarkable that Volunteer faithful have any emotion left to invest.

And for the tears and anguish suffered in Saturday's aftermath, UT fans only have themselves to blame for investing so much when recent history tells them that their team is cursed.

Alton "Pig" Howard should not be blamed. The sophomore wide receiver played the best game of his UT career and gave a remarkable effort on the play that ultimately sealed UT's fate.

Justin Worley cannot be blamed, either. The junior quarterback orchestrated three scoring touchdown drives in the second half and played his best football of the season.

And unlike former coach Derek Dooley so often could be, Jones cannot be blamed. The gumption he showed to go for it on fourth down three times in the second half is the reason the Vols came as close as they did to a monumental upset.

Moments after an undoubtedly emotional locker room scene, the first-year UT head coach began his press conference by expressing what the fans at Neyland Stadium taught him on Saturday.

"That's why they're the best in the country," he said before specifically thanking the students. "I think what we learned is we need that environment. We're going to need that. I need to challenge everyone. I need you to come to the South Carolina game."

If fans have anything left in the tank, this UT football team showed on Saturday that it might be worth obliging that request.

David Cobb is a junior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at dcobb3@utk.edu or followed on Twitter @DavidWCobb.