In 2019, all of Tennessee football’s non-conference regular season games will be at home. The Volunteers have done that 31 previous times.
One of the big advantages for Tennessee football in its attempt to have a turnaround for 2019 is the Vols’ hospitable schedule. They play eight games at home, including all four of their non-conference games. And none of them are against serious contenders.
Playing every non-conference regular season game at home doesn’t happen often for the Vols. Usually, they’ll have one game either on the road or at a neutral site. Sometimes, it’s basically a home game, like when they faced the Wyoming Cowboys in Nashville in 2002, the Bowling Green Falcons in Nashville in 2015, or the Memphis Tigers on the road at any time.
However, Tennessee football still usually makes a point to face one major non-conference opponent and one away from home, and they aren’t always the same. This year, though, the Vols are facing no non-SEC opponents from Power Five conferences, and they have all four games at home. It’s by far their easiest non-conference slate in maybe decades.
But what has that meant for Rocky Top in the past? The Vols have had 17 seasons since joining the SEC in 1933 in which all of their non-SEC regular season games are at home. Meanwhile, before joining the SEC, they had 14 such seasons.
Factoring in the first year they ever played a game within a conference, 1897(they first joined the SIAA in 1896), and taking out the four seasons the Vols didn’t play due to the Spanish-American War (1899), World War I (1917 and 1918) or World War II (1943), you have 118 seasons UT played in a conference. And you have 85 seasons they played in the SEC.
So that means the Vols play all non-SEC games at home once every five years, and they have done it historically a little less than once every four years. Has it meant a better season for them overall? In this post, that’s what we’re going to break down. We will separate the Vols’ seasons into tiers and determine just how much better they were with all home non-conference games.
This will be a statistical breakdown that includes five tiers, a final analysis and a final verdict. And we’ll also separate the SEC seasons and pre-SEC seasons. Obviously, bowl games don’t count. So let’s see if history says anything about this year. Here is our analysis of Tennessee football playing all non-conference games at home.