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Tennessee’s 2020 conference-only schedule released

Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

Tennessee’s 2020 football schedule is set.

The Vols will open the season with a road game against South Carolina on Sept. 26, which was announced on Monday afternoon on The Paul Finebaum Show. The SEC revealed the order for Tennessee’s other nine opponents Monday night on the SEC Network.

Game times and television schedules have not been announced. The league delayed the start of the season until late September and moved to a 10-game, SEC-only slate because of the coronavirus.

“The unique thing about our league is anybody can beat anybody any week,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said Monday afternoon. “It’s going to be a tough 10 games.”

This will be the first time Tennessee has faced an SEC team in its first game since Sept. 3, 1988, where Georgia picked up a 28-17 win. It is also the latest start to a season since 1962, when the Vols opened on Sept. 29 against Auburn.

Several oddsmakers have already released projected lines for the first game of the season.

Pregame’s Brad Powers lists Tennessee as a 2.5-point road favorite against the Gamecocks. Collin Wilson of The Action Network is not quite as high on the Vols. He has the game as a pick’em.

“That (South Carolina game) is a long time away,” Pruitt said. “We have a lot of things we need to fix here at Tennessee. We have 24 more practices to help develop our team.”

Tennessee follows a trip to South Carolina with a home opener against Missouri in Week 2. The Vols picked up a 24-20 win against the Tigers in November last season.

Week 3 brings a road trip to Georgia, where the Vols will face their biggest test of the young season. The No. 5 Bulldogs blew out Tennessee, 43-14, at Neyland Stadium in 2019.

Tennessee is set to host Kentucky in Week 4 on Oct. 17. The Vols improved to 5-5 with a 17-13 win in Lexington last season.

The third Saturday in October will not feature Tennessee vs. Alabama as it usually does, but the two teams will meet one week later. The Vols will host the Crimson Tide at Neyland Stadium on the fourth Saturday in October.

Tennessee plays Georgia the week after the Bulldogs play Auburn, while the Vols get Alabama one week after the Crimson Tide plays Georgia.

Tennessee’s bye week comes on the week of Halloween. Four SEC teams are off in Week 6.

The second half of the schedule begins with a road trip to Arkansas. Tennessee holds a 13-5 advantage in the all-time series, but the Razorbacks came away with a 24-20 win in the most recent meeting (2015).

Week 8 features one of the Vols’ added SEC West opponents in Texas A&M. Tennessee will host the Aggies for the first time ever.

The Vols will travel to Auburn on Nov. 21 in Week 9. They picked up a 30-24 win at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Pruitt’s first season at the helm in 2018.

Week 10 features a trip to Nashville, where the Vols face Vanderbilt. Tennessee picked up a 28-10 win on Nov. 30 against the Commodores last year, putting the finishing touches on a 7-5 regular season.

Potentially the most surprising news of the day is that the Vols will host Florida in the final game of the 10-game season. Tennessee was originally scheduled to open the season against the Gators, but now the showdown will occur in Week 11.

Tennessee began practice on Monday. Teams are allowed to practice 25 times during the 40 days prior to the season opener. Six FBS conferences are still planning to play this year, including the Big 12 and ACC.

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