Tennessee football plays Oklahoma and Florida in a tough opening month.
Sept. 5: Charlotte 49ers
Though we can applaud the Charlotte 49ers becoming a bowl-caliber team in its first decade of existence as a football program, don’t think for a second the Vols aren’t going to drop a stunner at home right out of the gate this year. Jeremy Pruitt’s program has come to far to let an on-the-rise, but inferior Conference USA team come into Knoxville and push them around. Vols, 41-17.
Sept. 12: at Oklahoma Sooners (Norman, OK)
This is a measuring-stick game for the Vols, but sadly, one they’ll come up painfully short. It’s not their fault, but the Oklahoma Sooners are in a completely other class as a program than Tennessee football at this time. Oklahoma has dominated the Big 12, while Tennessee hasn’t been to Atlanta since 2007. Look for the Sooners to boom Rocky Top in Norman. Sooners, 38-21.
Sept. 19: Furman Paladins
Tennessee will come back to Knoxville after getting kicked in the teeth by Oklahoma. It wasn’t a winnable battle for the Vols, but they’ll wipe the blood off their lips and get back to work vs. an FCS opponent. While the Furman Paladins are a strong team at their level, they’re not going to have a snowball’s chance at Neyland with Tennessee fresh off a non-conference loss. Vols, 45-14.
Sept. 26: Florida Gators
This is the game that will define Tennessee’s season. They have to beat one of their big three rivals, and their best shot at it this year is taking down the SEC East foe Florida Gators at home. While Florida is probably still a better team, Tennessee knows it can achieve nine or 10 regular-season wins by stomping the Gators at Neyland. This one will be an all-time classic. Vols, 24-23.