Tennessee football: Ranking every game on Vols 2019 schedule by difficulty

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images /
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With four non-conference games at home, Tennessee football’s 2019 slate should be easier than 2018. Here is the Volunteers’ schedule ranked by difficulty.

One big reason for excitement about the 2019 Tennessee football season coming off a 5-7 record is the seemingly easier schedule. As Jeremy Pruitt tries to improve his players across the field, it helps when he has a cupcake slate.

Okay, so playing in the SEC doesn’t really mean he has a cupcake slate. But the Vols do have eight games at home this year, as all four of their non-conference games are at Neyland. And not one of them is against a team from or even affiliated with a Power Five conference.

The last time this happened was 2011. Tennessee football’s toughest non-conference opponent was the Cincinnati Bearcats. That year, Rocky Top stumbled to a 5-7 season. Just like this year with Pruitt, the Vols were under the leadership of a second-year head coach. His name was Derek Dooley.

But Cincy did win the Big East that year, ironically under Butch Jones. Also, the Vols had to play the toughest conference schedule in history that year, including drawing the three teams from the West who happened to be the three best teams in the nation, the Arkansas Razorbacks, Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers.

Add in the fact that they lost their starting quarterback for half the season and starting receiver in the third game, and it’s clear that numerous things were working against them in 2011 that aren’t working against them yet in 2019.

Anyway, how does the slate look for UT in 2019? Well, that’s what this post is about. As we continue with our preview for the Vols this year, we’re going to compare how difficult each game is. In many cases, this is obvious. Our criteria includes how difficult we project the team to be and whether or not the game is at home or on the road.

Simply put, this is a pretty straightforward list. So let’s go ahead and analyze how things are looking for the Vols’ slate this year. Here is our ranking of all 12 games on Tennessee football’s 2019 schedule by degree of difficulty.