For the last 10 years, a win over the Tennessee Vols hasn’t been that big of a deal for rival SEC programs.

Tennessee has been down for the last decade and they’ve lost a lot of games they don’t traditionally lose.

A loss to Vanderbilt, for example, isn’t nearly as shocking as it used to be.

Second-year Vols head coach Josh Heupel, however, has changed the national perception of Tennessee football.

A win over the Vols is now something that some opposing fans celebrate like winning a national championship.

South Carolina, which has only lost at home to Tennessee twice since 2006, stormed the field on Saturday night in Columbia after their 63-38 win over UT.

After the game, South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler, who played lights out against the Vols, called the win over Tennessee one of the best ever in college football history.

“Tonight, man, that was one of the best wins ever in college football history,” said Rattler.

Two years ago, analysts were saying it would be years before the Vols played in a bowl game again.

Boy were they wrong.

Instead, an SEC rival is calling a win over the Vols one of the biggest wins in college football history.

That’s the kind of thing teams say after beating Alabama or Ohio State.

And now they’re saying it about beating the Vols.

Tennessee still has a lot of work to do — that much is clear after the embarrassing loss to South Carolina — but it’s obvious that Heupel has completely changed the narrative surrounding the UT football program.

If you’re a Vols fan, don’t get down on Heupel. Bad losses happen. They’ve happened to Dabo Swinney, Kirby Smart, and even Nick Saban (No. 1 Bama lost by 14 to South Carolina in 2010). A loss to South Carolina doesn’t define Heupel or the 2022 season for Tennessee.

Featured image via Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports