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Opening Weekend Should Provide Solace to Vol Fans

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI
Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

Tennessee had a bad performance on Thursday night in their season-opening 20-13 overtime win over Appalachian State. But the Vols managed to win, which is more than can be said about some other teams in the SEC and around the country this weekend. And Vol fans should take solace in that.

The Vols weren’t the only SEC team to struggle in the first week of the college football season. Nor were they the only ranked team to have trouble. In fact, higher ranked teams had bigger issues on opening weekend than the Vols did.

Two of the top five teams in the AP Poll lost their first game of the season on Saturday. No. 3 Oklahoma was toppled by by No. 15 Houston 33-23, and No. 5 LSU lost 16-14 to unranked Wisconsin. And they weren’t the only ranked teams to lose either. No. 10 Notre Dame lost in double overtime to unranked Texas 50-47 on Sunday night, and No. 16 UCLA lost in overtime to Texas A&M 31-24 on Saturday.

It may have looked ugly, but at least the Vols won their game. Those teams can’t say that.

And other ranked teams had struggles against unranked opponents as well. No. 2 Clemson got all they wanted from unranked Auburn, eking out a 19-13 victory. No. 8 Stanford had a closer game than anticipated against Kansas State, earning a 28-13 victory over the Wildcats, and No. 12 Michigan State won by the same score to FCS opponent Furman.

No. 13 TCU had only a four-point lead over South Dakota State in the fourth quarter and ended up prevailing 59-41 thanks to some late touchdowns. And No. 25 Florida was only up by a field goal in the fourth quarter against UMass, the lowest ranked FBS team in the country, and won by a score of 24-7 to end it.

All those are just the ranked teams. Other unranked SEC teams had plenty of issues this weekend as well.

Mississippi State was upset by South Alabama 21-20 after State’s kicker missed a 28-yard field goal with mere seconds left in the fourth quarter. Missouri was beaten 26-11 by West Virginia, and Kentucky blew a 25-point halftime lead to lose to Southern Miss and loss 44-35. Arkansas had to score a touchdown in the fourth to survive an upset bid by Louisiana Tech to prevail 21-20.

Alabama was the only SEC team that truly impressed in Week 1, dismantling USC 52-6. Georgia had a strong game and ended up on top of North Carolina 33-24, and running back Nick Chubb appeared to be back and ready to wreak havoc again this season.

Other than that, the SEC looked extremely disappointing in the first week of the season.

These other teams’ misfortunes doesn’t in any way excuse the Vols’ poor play on Thursday. Yes, Appalachian State is a good team. They won 11 games last season and are well coached. But the Vols shouldn’t have had to go to overtime to squeak out a victory over the Mountaineers.

With that being said, however, the struggles of the rest of the conference and other ranked teams should put things in perspective for Vol fans.

Tennessee may have struggled, but at least they won. That’s more than a lot of teams can say after facing lower ranked teams. That doesn’t mean Vol fans should be happy with the quality of play from the Vols, but a win is a win. Good teams have bad games against other good teams every season. The Vols better hope that it was just a one week slip up and not a sign of things to come.

The opening weekend of college football was a crazy one. And Vol fans should find comfort in the fact they aren’t fans of some of these other teams right now.

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