8. Alabama Crimson Tide
Yes, the Alabama Crimson Tide are another surefire loss for Tennessee football. But they are actually no more of a surefire loss than the Auburn Tigers. The Vols do get this team at home, and Jeremy Pruitt has enough familiarity with the Tide’s system to have a bit of an advantage.
Before you bring up Nick Saban’s history against his assistants, just remember that almost all of those were on uneven playing field with the exception of last year’s national championship game against Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs. And that game was barely a win.
As a result, the Vols’ have as much a chance of winning this game as they do of beating Auburn. On top of that, the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry still matters a lot to Vols fans, so that by itself makes this game carry more weight than the Auburn game. If fans had the choice, they’d rather beat Alabama than Auburn. And since both are about equally as winnable this year, the rivalry is the difference.
Still, don’t get it twisted. The Vols are likely to lose this game, and once again, that’s okay. They are at a different place in their program, and given what fans want this year, a loss to this team wouldn’t be nearly as devastating as it would to other teams on this list. That’s why it’s down at No. 8 in our ranking.
If Pruitt does restore the program, this game will move up significantly. But being a non-divisional game and a surefire loss, it definitely belongs near the bottom. Only being a conference game and a rivalry game makes it even this high.