The Tennessee Volunteers face two must-win games if they hope to reach their goal of making it to the postseason. It won’t be easy for the Vols, who have lost three straight games heading into Saturday’s contest against the Vanderbilt Commodores.
First-year head coach Butch Jones knows how important these games are. He is trying to revive the Tennessee program, and making it to the postseason in his initial season in Knoxville could help build momentum, as well as give the Vols some extra time on the practice field.
The recent schedule has been brutal for Tennessee, as the Vols have faced three straight Top 10 opponents. Tennessee lost 45-10 to the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, followed by a 31-3 loss to the Missouri Tigers and a 55-23 loss to the Auburn Tigers. Being outscored 131-36 in those three games does not appear to give much hope to the Vols winning their last two games.
However, the schedule has eased somewhat, as the Vols will host Vanderbilt on Saturday. Vandy is bowl eligible, but the Commodores are not at the level of Alabama, Missouri or Auburn. And after Vandy pounded the Vols 41-18 last season, Tennessee will be looking for payback on Saturday.
Whether Tennessee gets past Vanderbilt or not, they should be able to win their season finale, a visit to face the Kentucky Wildcats, next Saturday. Kentucky is the worst team in the Southeastern Conference, and the Vols should win that one.
And that makes a game that used to be an easy win for Tennessee all the more important this weekend. To go bowling and achieve their goal, Tennessee must get past Vanderbilt.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.