6. West Virginia Mountaineers
This is going to be Jeremy Pruitt’s first game as Tennessee football’s head coach. Against the West Virginia Mountaineers on a neutral field, it should actually be a crucial game. In fact, these are normally toss-up type games that can help determine what level the Vols will be on.
That’s not the case this year. West Virginia is more of a toss-up game than the three surefire losses, and it’s enough of a toss-up game for us to put it ahead of those three games. But this is barely accurate.
Only being an unranked non-conference team on a neutral field in a season-opener makes this a slight toss-up. Overall, I’m not sure this isn’t a more guaranteed loss than the Georgia Bulldogs this year. The Vols have better athletes than WVU, but this match-up is terrible for them.
Dana Holgorsen’s air raid against a defense transitioning to a 3-4 likely to be awful in the secondary is a terrible combination. Add in the fact that Will Grier is throwing the ball for West Virginia, and this could get ugly for Tennessee football.
Considering it isn’t a non-conference game, we could’ve dropped this even below the three surefire losses. However, just tradition and conventional wisdom is enough for us to consider this game more winnable. That combined with it being the opener makes it more important. But it’s not by much. Simply put, there will be no reason to worry about the season if the Vols lose this game. And that’s why it’s the least important among games that don’t have surefire outcomes.