Historically, Tennessee football hasn’t always had easy season-openers. Here are five near-upsets the Volunteers survived from Group of Five schools.
Looking to take a huge jump in head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s second season, Tennessee football figures to have a very easy opening matchup against a Sun Belt team that went 2-10 last year in the Georgia State Panthers. But crazy things can happen.
There have been plenty of times in UT history in which the Vols looked ugly in a season-opener that they meant for a tune-up game. It’s one thing to win a thriller at Syracuse en route to your national championship season.
However, it’s a completely different thing altogether when you play a lower-level team and struggle. Tennessee football has done that in the past, getting out of their first game with Vols fans breathing a sigh of relief rather than celebrating a win. If they’re not careful, Georgia State just may give them that scare. History proves it’s possible.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at some of those memorable matchups. To qualify, the games have to be wins against schools who were in FBS, or Division I, at the time, but they can’t have been a member of any major conference, either a Power Five Conference now or any of the previous BCS Conference plus the Southwest Conference when it existed.
We are specifically looking at close games UT won in its season-opener against mid-major programs. Some of these games were simply scares that caught the program off-guard. In other instances, however, they were indicative of a larger problem that would exist throughout the season. Or they were indicative of a team being better than expected.
Either way, all of these games serve as examples of what could happen to Rocky Top if they aren’t careful on Saturday against Georgia State. So which ones are they? When did they occur? Let’s go ahead and break them down. Here are five mid-major or Group of Five schools Tennessee football barely beat in season-opening games.