Tennessee could be in the midst of the type of gauntlet no team has faced in two decades.
The Volunteers (4-3, 1-2 SEC) visit top-ranked Alabama (7-0, 4-0) on Saturday in their third straight game against a Top 25 team. They follow that up by visiting No. 5 Missouri (7-0, 3-0) and hosting No. 11 Auburn (6-1, 3-1) the next two weeks.
If Missouri and Auburn remain in the Top 25 when they face Tennessee, the Vols would face seven ranked opponents in an eight-game stretch.
From Bleacher Report
The days of Lane Kiffin trumpeting moral victories against the SEC’s elite are over. So are Derek Dooley’s days of no meaningful victories.
Butch Jones’ Tennessee Vols finally broke through with a win over a ranked opponent last week against South Carolina. Before that, UT made the play to beat then-No. 6 Georgia in overtime, but fumbled through the end zone for a touchback and eventual loss.
Momentum dons a faded orange sweatshirt with a Power T as the calendar flips to fall.
However, a big, crimson football factory awaits UT in Tuscaloosa this weekend. Alabama is ranked No. 1 and has won three of the past four BCS National Championships. It has allowed just 16 points in its five wins since surviving Texas A&M, 49-42.
From the Times Free Press
It seemed unlikely in August, but Tennessee’s daunting schedule increased in difficulty.
Already among the nation’s toughest, the slate now may include seven ranked teams by the time the Volunteers navigate it.
“Honestly, I didn’t know,” tailback Rajion Neal said this week. “I think we’ve got some surprises that snuck up on us as far as Auburn and Missouri, but I think being in this conference, you can’t run from it. It is what it is. There’s no way around it.
“I think it’s really exciting. It gives you a chance to play on high stages and get yourself out there as far as the team and as an individual. It gives us a chance to compete and see what we’ve got.”
Butch Jones admittedly hasn’t gotten much sleep since Tennessee’s breakthrough 23-21 victory over then-No. 11 South Carolina last weekend.
But, then, when does he ever get much sleep?
On average, the Vols’ first-year coach snoozes about four hours a night, but the sleep monitor he wears tells him that only 2&189; of those hours are what you would call deep sleep.
He also keeps a notepad beside his bed that has been known to liven things up in the wee hours of the morning at the Jones household.