9. Auburn Tigers
We go from the surefire victories to the surefire losses for Tennessee football. The first of those surefire losses this year is the Auburn Tigers. This is a road game against the only team to beat last year’s national champion. By the way, the Vols’ head coach was defensive coordinator of that team to lose to Auburn.
Gus Malzahn’s team was also runner-up in the SEC Championship game, contended for a spot in the College Football Playoff, and returns enough talent to be just as good this year. Finally, they are playing host to the Vols.
So this is a game you can’t expect the Vols to win at all. And quite honestly, that’s okay. Unlike the other ones we named that have a sure outcome, it is a conference game. But it’s a non-divisional game. And while there is historical significance to the Tennessee-Auburn rivalry, it’s been dormant now for 27 years. They’ve only played nine times since then.
As a result, this is the least important SEC game in the scope of what the Vols are hoping to accomplish this year. In fact, it even goes deeper than that. Say against all odds, Tennessee football is competing for an SEC Championship. Well, the Tigers would be the least consequential loss in that race.
So no matter how you spin it, this is going to be the least consequential game on the Vols’ schedule for 2018. If they do win, it’s a major bonus on the year. But if they don’t it’s not really the end of the world.