RTI contributor Noah Taylor is the author of this article
Despite its billing as the best conference in college football and having the hardware to support that claim, the SEC is often outed for its weaker non-conference scheduling.
While there is some evidence to back that up, teams in the league have beefed up their future schedules recently, steering away from the usual FCS and Group of Five games and opting instead for either neutral site or home-and-home match-ups with traditional powers.
Tennessee has been an exception to the rule for some time. In recent years, the Vols have faced off against Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, and Oregon at home and in neutral venues, and they are slated to face the Sooners again in the upcoming 2020 season.
Tennessee played BYU in Knoxville last season and will play the Cougars in Provo, Utah in 2023. The Vols’ schedule over the next few years will also feature Pittsburgh at Neyland Stadium in 2021 and then at Heinz Field in 2022. Oklahoma makes a return trip to Knoxville in 2024, and in 2026 and 2027, Tennessee will get Nebraska in a home-and-home series.
These games are good for college football in general and Tennessee specifically, especially since fans would be more inclined to show up –something stadiums all over the country are struggling to do every week.
But tough non-conference scheduling isn’t a new concept at Tennessee. The Vols have been involved in revolving series against teams like Notre Dame, UCLA, and Penn State dating back to the Doug Dickey era and have kept that trend going as evidenced by who they will play in the next 5-6 years.
Even with future schedules loaded with star power, there are still some intriguing match-ups to be had for Tennessee. Here’s a look at five non-conference games the Vols should play again sometime in the near future