In recent seasons, Tennessee’s non-conference slate has featured matchups against Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The Vols have made a habit out of playing at least one power five school each year, but that isn’t the case this season. Tennessee will play Georgia State, Chattanooga, BYU and UAB in 2019.
Their habit of power five non-conference games will return in 2020 with Oklahoma, then again in 2021 with Pittsburgh. But for 2020, the non-conference slate is pretty light.
In a recent article at ESPN, Chris Low ranked Tennessee’s non-conference schedule as the 9th easiest in the country for 2019. Here’s what Low had to say.
Tennessee’s schedule looks to be much more manageable in Jeremy Pruitt’s second season as coach. In fact, the Vols join Arkansas as the only two teams in the SEC not playing a nonconference game against a Power 5 opponent or Notre Dame. Most notably, a home game against BYU this season replaces a neutral-site game a year ago against West Virginia and Will Grier. While it’s impossible in June to pinpoint one game that could make or break a team’s season, that home game against BYU in Week 2 looks to be a good candidate.
Kentucky, Alabama and Arkansas all were ranked ahead of Tennessee with even easier slates. Baylor, Indiana and Illinois took the top three positions.
Low also points to the BYU matchup as a game that could “make or break” Tennessee’s 2019 season. With the Vols needing every ounce of help possible out of their non-conference schedule, it’s easy to see his point.
Let us know your thoughts on the non-conference strategy below. Should Tennessee take a lighter approach like this season? Or would you rather them schedule more heavy hitters like Oklahoma?