Summer is typically the time for college football hot takes and boy-oh-boy do we have one for you today. A CBS Sports panel predicted some of the biggest potential upsets of the 2020 season, and Tennessee was included in the fun.
Tom Fornelli selected the Volunteers to beat the Crimson Tide this fall, saying that he’s “a firm believer that Tennessee is going to get someone this season.”
Here’s his explanation.
This year, things set up very well for the Vols. Not only are they playing the game in Knoxville, but Tennessee has a bye the week before. Alabama does not. Alabama’s game against Tennessee will be its eighth contest in as many weeks. It will also be Alabama’s third road game in four weeks. All the ingredients are there for a major Tennessee upset, so don’t forget who told you it was going to happen five months ahead of time. (CBS)
Tennessee gave Alabama a really good game last year in Tuscaloosa before a series of unfortunate events (and some, uh, questionable officiating) led to their ultimate demise. Regardless of the outcome, anyone that watched that game would say Tennessee belonged on the field with Alabama. That’s something that hasn’t been true since 2015. And before that? Try 2009.
Tennessee’s last win over Alabama came in 2006.
The 2019 meeting ended up being a lopsided win for Alabama after Jarrett Guarantano went rogue on a sneak attempt at the goal line, fumbled, and created a 100 yard return touchdown for the Tide. Instead of a 28-20 game in the fourth quarter, it was a 35-13 game. Ouch.
Tennessee didn’t lose much this offseason as Jeremy Pruitt continues to build his program. Receivers Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway graduated, while key defenders Darrell Taylor, Daniel Bituli and Nigel Warrior will leave a few holes. But the Volunteers’ 10th ranked 2020 class will certainly help those positions.
One of the biggest reasons for optimism is the offensive line, which returns each of the five starters from last season. They also will add former five-star prospect Cade Mays from Georgia, who will be seeking a waiver to play right away. The Vols should be able to win in the trenches consistently, something that hasn’t been done in Knoxville in over a decade.
The reasons for optimism are obvious, now it’s just up to Tennessee to get over the hump. They’ll have plenty of chances to do so with a loaded schedule in 2020.