There is no way around the fact that UT plays the reigning national champion, Georgia, and runner-up Alabama. If UT’s up-tempo offense can move against these defenses, it can move against anyone.
Sept. 1 Ball State. A Thursday evening home opener. Look for UT to put lots of points on the board.
Sept. 10 at Pittsburgh. The Panthers went 11-3 and are ranked in the Top 20. The Vols came close last year and should win this time around with a solid offensive output.
Sept. 17 Akron. Former Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead takes over the Zips after a 2-10 season that had Zippy the Kangaroo hopping mad. Another chance to gear up the VROOM attack.
Sept. 24 Florida. At SEC Media Days, Heupel described last year’s 38-14 drubbing in Gainesville as a learning opportunity for his new team. He said he ran the game film and pointed out moments in the third quarter that “changed the trajectory” of the game, where different decisions could have led to a different outcome. At home this time, the Vols can take the improving Gators, coming off a 6-7 season.
Oct. 8 at LSU. The Tigers also went 6-7 last year. Death Valley is always perilous, but this should be a W. Look for a breakout day by freshman running back Dylan Sampson, a 5’11, 190-pound 10.3-in-the-100 speedster from Baton Rouge.
Oct. 15 Alabama. Quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy but not the national title. To keep this game close, UT’s up-tempo offense has to keep Young and the Crimson Tide offense off the field as much as possible.
Oct. 22 UT-Martin (Homecoming). Although this is supposed to be a post-Bama breather, the Skyhawks were 10-3 last year, losing to eventual runner-up Montana State in the Division I Championship Subdivision playoffs. So, it’s best to not take our UT-System cousins for granted!
Oct. 29 Kentucky. Though the Vols won a 45-42 barnburner in Lexington, beefy Penn State transfer quarterback Will Levis led the Wildcats to a 10-3 season and a Top 20 preseason ranking. It will be another wild one. A win would be big.
Nov. 5 at Georgia. Quarterback Stetson Bennett IV’s Horatio Alger story—walking on for the Bulldogs, starring at a junior college, returning to Georgia, winning the starting job as an underdog and leading the Dawgs to national title—somewhat parallels that of Josh Heupel. As with Bam, UT’s offense must keep Bennett and his offense off the field as long as possible.
Nov. 12 Missouri. The Tigers were 6-7 and improving at the end of last season.
Nov. 19 at South Carolina. The Gamecocks were also 7-6 and improving at the end of last season. Always tough in Williams-Brice Stadium.
Nov. 26 at Vanderbilt. The 2-10 Commodores are rebuilding. Hopefully, a tune-up for another bowl game, this time in Florida.