Every single football season, Tennessee seems to have one of the toughest schedules in the country. The 2020 campaign will be no different for the Vols.
According to 247Sports, Tennessee has the sixth-toughest schedule in all of college football for the 2020 season. The Vols’ schedule is considered the fifth-toughest schedule in the SEC. Only South Carolina (No. 1), Arkansas (No. 2), Ole Miss (No. 3) and Auburn (No. 4) have tougher schedules. USC (No. 5) is the only non-SEC team ahead of Tennessee.
The 247Sports team ranked the schedules using their preseason way-too-early Top 25 as a guide based on opponent quality, when the game occurs, likelihood it affects team success, and circumstances surrounding the match-ups (opponent coming off an open week, tough back-to-back games, etc.). They then attached a numeral grade that is factored into a subjective placement in the overall schedule toughness rankings.
“The home game vs. Alabama in October potentially sets up to be Jeremy Pruitt’s biggest showdown of his tenure if the Vols, who we expect to be ranked in the preseason, come into that with one loss or fewer following their open week,” 247’s Brad Crawford wrote. “That’ll be a serious challenge however considering Tennessee goes to Oklahoma in Week 2 and hosts Florida in the SEC opener two weekends later. If there’s a good time to catch the Sooners next fall, it’s probably early in Spencer Rattler’s second start at quarterback.”
Tennessee is set to play four teams that finished in the final 2019 Associated Press College Football Poll during Jeremy Pruitt’s third season on Rocky Top. All four teams finished in the AP top 10 — Georgia (No. 4), Florida (No. 6), Oklahoma (No. 7), and Alabama (No. 8).
After kicking the season off on Sept. 5 against Charlotte, the Vols will travel to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the Sooners on Sept. 12. Oklahoma finished 12-2 last season and ranked No. 7 overall in the AP Poll.
Following their date with Lincoln Riley, Tennessee will return home two weeks later to face Florida on Sept. 26 with game against Furman scheduled in between. The Gators finished last season 11-2 and No. 6 in the country. Florida finished second in the SEC East in Dan Mullen’s second season in Gainesville.
Georgia and Alabama were the two other teams to finish inside the top 10 of last year’s final AP Poll. Tennessee will face Alabama in Neyland Stadium on Oct. 24. The Crimson Tide finished 11-2 and ranked No. 8 in the country but failed to make it to the College Football Playoff for the first time since its inception.
As for Georgia, the Bulldogs finished last season as the fourth-best team in the country at 12-2, winning the SEC East before falling to LSU in the SEC Championship Game. Tennessee will travel to Athens on Nov. 15th to face Kirby Smart’s squad.
The Vols will also face Missouri (Oct. 3), Kentucky (Nov. 7), and Troy (Nov. 21) at home this season. Tennessee will travel to South Carolina (Oct. 10), Arkansas (Oct. 31), and Vanderbilt (Nov. 28) to round out their 2020 schedule.