Looking to improve to 4-5, Tennessee football hosts the University of Alabama-Birmingham Saturday evening. Here is our UT Volunteers homecoming preview.
It’s back to hosting Group of Five teams, where Tennessee football has struggled significantly this year already. The Vols have their final non-conference matchup of the year, and their homecoming game, against the UAB Blazers Saturday night.
UT is coming off of a dramatic 41-21 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks to move to 3-5 and 2-3 in the SEC in Jeremy Pruitt’s second season. The victory has now put a bowl game back in the picture after that 0-2 start with home losses to the Georgia State Panthers and BYU Cougars.
UAB comes in at 6-1 under head coach Bill Clark and looking to repeat as Conference-USA champions. It’s also homecoming for Tennessee football. Here is all the information you need for the game Saturday evening.
UAB Blazers at Tennessee Volunteers
When: Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Neyland Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Line: Tennessee -13
This is a game that will answer lots of questions about both teams. Neither school has beaten a team with a winning record this year. This would be Tennessee football’s first win over such a team, but if UAB won, it would be their first win over a Power Five school this year.
Right now five of UAB’s six wins are against one FCS school, two winless schools and two one-win schools. Their best win is against the UTSA Roadrunners, who are a 3-4 Group of Five program. But they do have five FBS wins to the Vols’ two, and both of those are against 3-5 SEC schools. They also have one FCS win.
Simply put, Saturday is the best test for both programs. With two Group of Five losses already, Tennessee football is not likely to take this game lightly, but that won’t make it any less tough. After all, the programs have met four times in the best, and two of them were very close: a touchdown win by UT in 2005 and a double-overtime win for them in 2010.
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Both coaching staffs have major connections. Pruitt and half his staff, including Will Friend, Brian Niedermeyer, Tracy Rocker and Kevin Sherrer, all cut their teeth coaching high school football in Alabama. Clark was a high school coach in the state for 20 years as well, and he and his staff also have connections to Pruitt’s father, who coached there for years.
Under Clark, the Blazers have been the story of college football. They were shut down a year after he took over the program and didn’t have a team in 2015 or 2016. But an outpouring of fan support restored the program in 2017, and they went 8-5 that year before winning the C-USA title with an 11-3 record in 2018.
They were supposed to have a drop-off this year. But it didn’t happen, and at 6-1, Clark has the program rolling. As a result, Saturday will be a tough test for Tennessee football. But a win will be a huge boost for them.
Defeating UAB would get the Vols to 4-5. They then have to win two of their final three at the Kentucky Wildcats, at the Missouri Tigers and at home against the Vanderbilt Commodores to get to a bowl game. But before thinking about that, they have to take care of business in this game.