Tennessee has gotten accustomed to dealing with tough Octobers over the last few years. The Vols haven’t won more than one game in the month of October since 2015, and they haven’t had a winning record in that month since 2007. In fact, over the last 10 seasons, the Vols have won just seven SEC games in the month of October and have gone just 10-28 overall in October in that same span.
And this season, it doesn’t look like October is going to get any easier for the Vols.
Chris Low of ESPN compiled a list of the toughest three-game stretches of the 2018 football season among Power Five schools, and he listed Tennessee as the team with the toughest stretch in the SEC. The Vols’ gauntlet of games including a road contest at Auburn, home against Alabama, and a road game against South Carolina is a tougher stretch of games than any other team in the SEC according to Low.
“The month of October has been a house of horrors for the Vols,” Low writes. “They’re just 4-24 against SEC opponents in October over the past eight seasons, and it doesn’t look real promising this season, either. In successive weeks, Tennessee travels to No. 19 Auburn, faces No. 1 Alabama at home and then goes back on the road to face No. 25 South Carolina. The Vols have lost 11 straight to Alabama and six straight to Auburn, two teams that could figure prominently in the national championship conversation in 2018. What’s more, this should be Will Muschamp’s best team at South Carolina.”
The only two Power Five teams who have a rougher stretch during the season according to Low are Oklahoma State and Oregon State. The Cowboys of Oklahoma State go on the road to Oklahoma, host West Virginia, and go on the road against TCU in successive weeks in November. Oregon State, the No. 1 team on Low’s list, goes on the road to Stanford, then to Washington, then hosts Oregon in the final month of the season as well.
Tennessee will be on a bye week before they go on the road to Auburn, and after their game against South Carolina they’ll host Charlotte to begin the month of November. So it’s very likely the Vols could go winless in the month of October for the fourth time since 2008 if they fail to beat any of those three teams this season.
Jeremy Pruitt already has a tough task ahead of him in his first season as head coach at Tennessee. But the three-game stretch in October, and the Vols’ two games before their bye week against Florida and Georgia, only make things more difficult for his rebuilding efforts at UT.
It’s unlikely this year will be the season Tennessee ends their October woes. But the Vols can still salvage their season with a solid start and a strong November to bookend what could be another forgettable October.