In our previous post we detailed the first six games of the Tennessee Volunteers’ 2014 schedule. Butch Jones and his club enjoyed a successful first half of the campaign and the analysis includes a solid home opening win against a good Utah State team, an upset of Georgia in Athens and strong efforts in loses to Florida and Oklahoma. But the schedule gets truly brutal in the second half of the season and such a young team is likely to struggle in the middle of such a tough schedule. The Vols’ chances to get to a bowl – something they desperately need to accomplish – rests on their ability to survive and bounce back from a brutal mid-season schedule. Let’s get back to the 2014 Tennessee Vols schedule.
Tennessee Volunteers Schedule Analysis, Games 7-12
October 18th – @ Ole Miss, Time TBD, Coverage TBD
Other than the Utah State game, this is the most important game of the season for the Vols. It’s a tough Ole Miss team coming off one of their best seasons in history, with strong play from a talented quarterback, and building program momentum under Hugh Freeze. Tennessee travels to Oxford where they historically don’t play well. The game precedes the Alabama contest and Tennessee cannot afford to look forward. Tennessee needs wins against similar programs – programs building or maintaining momentum; but, in the end, the road and Ole Miss’ talent is too much for a young Volunteers team. The second half of the season gets off to a disappointing start in Oxford.
Prediction: Ole Miss 34, Tennessee 17
October 25th – ALABAMA, Time TBD, Coverage TBD
Tennessee is coming off a disappointing loss to Ole Miss seriously jeopardizing their bowl hopes. Alabama comes to town trying to assert themselves as the best team in the country. Tennessee lost its’ entire defensive line from last year. Alabama has a stable of powerful running backs. Tennessee lost its’ entire offensive line from last year. Alabama has Alabama’s defense. Tennessee is young. Alabama is championship tested. The crowd will be hyped for the most undervalued rivalry in all of college football. Oh, and a guy named Lane Kiffin returns to Neyland Stadium. As much as Vol fans would like to stick it to their former coach, Alabama is too much and easily owns the day.
Prediction: Alabama 52, Tennessee 16
November 1st – @ South Carolina, Time TBD, Coverage TBD
Tennessee’s woes continue as it has to travel after a bad loss against Alabama. South Carolina will remember last year’s upset in Knoxville and the Vols will have a hard time rebounding from a disappointing loss to Ole Miss and the previous week’s loss to Alabama. Tennessee is sandwiched between road games at Auburn and at Florida for South Carolina, which makes the game close, but errors in the special teams cost Tennessee an opportunity for a second road upset of the season.
Prediction: South Carolina 28, Tennessee 27
November 15th – KENTUCKY, Time TBD, Coverage TBD
Tennessee goes into a bye week coming off three disappointing in-conference losses. Butch Jones proves his worth by getting the young team back into focus for the Kentucky game. Jones has the Vols fired up and ready to go and they look sharp against the Conference’s worst team. Tennessee makes it 29 out of the past 30 against Kentucky at home.
Prediction: Tennessee 48, Kentucky 24
November 22nd – MISSOURI, Time TBD, Coverage TBD
Tennessee fans will remember Missouri’s four-overtime trip to Knoxville in 2014 as the one that slipped away and likely cost Derek Dooley his job (along with a horrible loss to Vanderbilt) and the team a bowl bid. This game, along with Utah State and Ole Miss, is one of the intriguing games on the schedule. Missouri is the reigning SEC East champs, but will their talent allow them to defend that title particularly after a hard season and travelling to Knoxville. Tennessee stays in the game the whole way but can’t clinch a bowl berth as the kicking game once again sputters for the Vols.
Prediction: Missouri 31, Tennessee 26
November 29th – @ Vanderbilt, Time TBD, Coverage TBD
This game is more about Vandy than Tennessee. James Franklin’s departure and key losses prevent Vandy from continuing their recent success. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, Dudley Field will once again be more than half orange. The Butch Jones investment pays off as the team is ready to win another SEC game on the road and clinch their first bowl since the 2010 Music City Bowl.
Prediction: Tennessee 38, Vanderbilt 17
Tennessee gets into a bowl – likely either the Liberty Bowl or Music City Bowl – and gets an extra month of practice for a young team and bust in an already strong recruiting effort for 2015. In the end, this season is seen as the transition for Butch Jones and his tenure at Tennessee. The 2014 season will set the stage for a gradual improvement in Tennessee Football. To have this success, the team must manage its inexperience on the offensive and defensive lines, must mature early, and must weather an absolutely brutal schedule. Jones has the ability to do this and accomplish the goal of a bowl game invitation. With only ten days to kick-off in Knoxville, we about to stop wondering and start watching.
It’s finally Football Time in Tennessee!
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