The Vols officially completed their Appalachian tour with the announcement of the much-rumored Tennessee-West Virginia showdown in Charlotte to open the 2018 season. This puts Tennessee in Bristol against Virginia Tech in 2016 and against the Mountaineers in North Carolina two years later. Factor in a less-exciting game against UAB to open the 2015 season in Nashville (although the Vols do get Oklahoma in Knoxville next year as well), and it's clear to see Butch Jones and Dave Hart aren't playing around about these neutral site games.
When the Vols and Hokies announced the Battle at Bristol last year, we looked at five other neutral sites and nearby opponents fans of both schools could get excited about. The most popular idea by far was playing in Nashville against either Louisville or Notre Dame. Even though the Vols went to LP Field for the UAB game, I hope it won't keep them away from looking back toward Middle Tennessee for a future upscale opponent.
Atlanta continues to be popular and will have a brand new stadium in 2017, which is the only open date in the next four years on Tennessee's schedule for a major conference opponent. I wouldn't at all be surprised to hear the Vols paired with an ACC foe (which could include Notre Dame these days) in the new stadium to open that season.
With Tennessee and Oklahoma playing their home-and-home the next two years, the future has quickly become more about these neutral games than the traditional home-and-home model we've seen forever. Going back to the rise of the modern era of Tennessee Football, here are the home-and-homes the Vols have played in the last 30 years:
- UCLA (1985, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2008, 2009)
- Boston College (1987, 1988)
- Notre Dame (1990, 1991, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005)
- Louisville (1991, 1993)
- Syracuse (1998, 2001)
- Miami (2002, 2003)
- California (2006, 2007)
- Oregon (2010, 2013)
- Oklahoma (2014, 2015)