Advertise with usContact UsRTI Team

Vols’ Schedule Even Tougher Than It Seems

Photo By Andrew Bruckse/Tennessee Athletics
Photo By Andrew Bruckse/Tennessee Athletics

The Vols’ 2016 schedule shapes up favorably in many aspects. The Vols only play three games out of the state of Tennessee and host arguably their two toughest opponents (Florida and Alabama) in Knoxville.

When comparing it to the 2013 or 2014 schedules, Tennessee should be facing less ranked opponents and be more evenly matched than they have in years thanks to the weaker schedule and their increase in talent as well.

But what if I told you that a deeper look at Tennessee’s schedule proves that it’s tougher than it seems?

The part of the schedule everyone points to for the Vols is their gauntlet of games to close out September and open October. Tennessee hosts Florida on September 24th, goes on the road for back-to-back weekends against Georgia and Texas A&M, and then comes back to Knoxville to host Alabama before a bye week. That’s tough no matter how you slice it.

A deeper look at that stretch, however, makes those games seem even more difficult to win.

Both the Vols and Gators should be tested but not exhausted when the two face off in Neyland on September 24th. The Vols will have played Appalachian State at home, Virginia Tech in the Battle at Bristol, and Ohio at home. Florida will have played Massachusetts, Kentucky, and North Texas all at home before making their first road trip of the season to Knoxville.

The next few games, however, don’t match up as evenly.

Tennessee’s game against Florida will be tough, but Georgia will arguably have an even tougher road before taking on the Vols on October 1st. The Bulldogs will have played Missouri and gone on the road to Ole Miss the week before playing the Vols. In that scenario, Tennessee might have the advantage, but it’s still fairly close.

Then the Vols go to College Station to take on Texas A&M, a road trip Tennessee has never gone on in its program’s history. Before the Aggies take on the Vols, they will have played games at Auburn, against Arkansas, and at South Carolina. In this case, the Vols are likely coming off a tougher stretch having played both Florida and Georgia in the previous weeks.

And Alabama finishes off the gauntlet. And after facing Florida, Georgia, and Texas A&M in successive weeks, the Vols are likely to be feeling the effects of a rough SEC stretch.

Alabama will have played some tough games, but not quite the marathon the Vols will have gone through. The Tide will have faced Ole Miss in Oxford back in Week 3 then faced Kentucky and gone on the road to Arkansas in the two games before facing the Vols. That’s certainly not an easy stretch, but on paper it looks less daunting than the Vols’.

In review, the Vols appear to have one scheduling advantage in that four-game stretch. And even that isn’t much of an advantage. The Florida game should be fairly even, but the psychological edge still goes to the Gators there. Tennessee most likely has the edge over Georgia, but going to Athens cancels that out a tad as well. Then the Vols are at the disadvantage when it comes to their games against Texas A&M and Alabama.

Don’t discount the effect scheduling can have on games. Just look at the last two seasons for the Vols.

When Tennessee played Alabama last season, the Vols were fresh off a bye week while the Tide were playing their eighth-straight game. Alabama had played at Georgia, hosted Arkansas, and gone to Texas A&M in the three weeks before Tennessee came to Tuscaloosa. Don’t think all that didn’t play into the Vols keeping it as close as they did on the road last year.

Then there’s 2014 when Kentucky came to Knoxville. Tennessee had to win that game to keep their bowl hopes alive and well, and they were coming off a bye that week. Kentucky, meanwhile, had played seven straight weeks before that and had faced LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, and Georgia before taking on the Vols. All that, coupled with a talent advantage by the Vols, led to a 50-14 beat down by Tennessee.

Blaming success or failure purely on the schedule isn’t wise. But how a schedule lines up absolutely plays into the psyche and stamina of a team, and the Vols have the disadvantage more than they have the advantage in some of their toughest games of the year.

Similar Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet Us