By Bryan Zarpentine @BZarp on August 24, 2014
The 2014 season should be an interesting one for the Tennessee Volunteers. Despite a 5-7 season in Butch Jones' first season in Knoxville, the Vols showed signs of turning things around, and even pulled off an upset over South Carolina. Tennessee faces a devastating schedule this year, one that features six top-25 teams, including four ranked in the top 12 heading into the season. Here are five must-watch games on that schedule.
Not only do the Vols face a brutal SEC schedule, but they'll make an out-of-conference road trip to Oklahoma. If nothing else, facing the Sooners should give Tennessee a prime time showcase game away from the SEC and good preparation for the conference season. If the Vols can enter the game 2-0 after early-season games against two tough mid-majors, this will be a great barometer for them, and a chance to pull off an upset.
Vanderbilt has turned this into a real rivalry by beating the Vols the past two seasons, and so even if Tennessee is not playing for bowl contention at this point in the season, they would love nothing more than to get back on the winning side against their in-state rivals. With Tennessee facing a three-game losing streak against Vandy, this is a must-watch game everywhere in the Volunteer State.
The Vols let a golden opportunity to pull off an upset of Georgia slip through their fingertips last year, and this is their chance to get redemption for it. Facing the Bulldogs on the road won't be easy, but Tennessee will be as motivated to win this game as they will any other game this season, giving them another opportunity to pull off a major upset early in the season.
Both of these teams are just hoping to get to a bowl game, and the loser of this game could be in a great deal of trouble to make that happen, which means this is a must-win game for both sides. The Vols haven't beat the Gators since 2004, but they have to feel like this is their chance to end a decade of futility against Florida, and the chance to do that in Neyland Stadium is something Tennessee fans won't want to miss.
It's always a special occasion when the Vols get to invite Alabama into Neyland Stadium. Tennessee hasn't beat the Crimson Tide since 2006, and they haven't even come close since 2009, but the Vols are poised to pull off a couple of surprises in 2014, and this could end up being the biggest one of all. The Vols should at least be in position to be more competitive with Alabama, and on the slight chance they have to win, this is a must-watch game.
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