10. UAB Blazers
Saturday, Nov. 2; Neyland Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
If these were the same teams on Tennessee football’s schedule last year, the UAB Blazers might actually be higher on the list. They did win the Conference USA Championship last year and were a very disciplined team.
That is enough to put them ahead of the Georgia State Panthers and Chattanooga Mocs in this year’s rankings. But it wasn’t enough to move them ahead of another major non-conference opponent or any SEC opponent. After all, they did lose a ton of talent from this past year, so this is a bit of a rebuilding season.
However, UAB is a tier ahead of Georgia State and Chattanooga. They actually have decent talent, and they are very well-coached under Bill Clark. In fact, Clark and his coaching staff all have connections to Jeremy Pruitt, as they all coached high school football throughout the state of Alabama around similar times.
As a result, they may be much more familiar with Pruitt’s tendencies than other coaches, and that could pose a problem for this team. Pruitt even acknowledged that when he was at SEC Media Days back in July.
It’s also somewhat of a trap game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and Kentucky Wildcats, which are two matchups that will go a long way towards determining what kind of season the Vols have. So UT may not be as focused. All of these issues pose some problems, but the Blazers lost too much talent, so the Vols should still control the game.