11. Georgia State Panthers
Saturday, Aug. 31; Neyland Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
One of Tennessee football’s wins over FCS schools since they began playing regularly in 2010 is over the Georgia State Panthers in 2012. The Vols won that game 51-13 as GSU was en route to a 1-10 season under Bill Curry. One year later, they joined the Sun Belt Conference.
Despite the potential of becoming a great program in the heart of Atlanta, things haven’t gotten better since they joined. The program has two bowl appearances since then and only one winning season. This year, they are coming off a 2-10 record as Shawn Elliott enters his third year on the job.
Elliott is familiar with the SEC since he was the interim head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks after Steve Spurrier resigned and nearly beat the Vols in 2015. And this is his first year with the combination of experience and his recruits.
As a result, GSU should be better. But they should be no issue for the Vols. This is the season-opener for both teams, and Jeremy Pruitt should have his guys excited to improve off of that 5-7 record from a year before. As a result, they should blow out the Panthers just like they should blow out the Mocs.
Any sort of struggle in this game would be incredibly concerning for the rest of the season. Even at their worst under Butch Jones and Derek Dooley, the Vols managed to beat horrible non-conference FBS schools on the slate.