8. South Carolina Gamecocks
Saturday, Oct. 9; Neyland Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
Similar to the Vanderbilt Commodores, the South Carolina Gamecocks are a team that Tennessee football beat in its home stadium last year and then fired its head coach. Taking those things into account plus the fact that the Vols get them in Knoxville this year, it seems like it should be a sure win for the program.
However, South Carolina does have more talent than Vanderbilt, so it’s not going to be below any non-Power Five opponent. Also, new head coach Shane Beamer has seen a good bit of success with the Oklahoma Sooners and Georgia Bulldogs the past few years, so he’s a solid hire.
What really could make this tough for the Vols, though, is that South Carolina will be their sixth straight foe. They will have come off back to back road games, both of which are expected to be losses but one of which is a tossup that could help define the season.
After the South Carolina game is a home game against a dangerous program that we’ll break down later in this post. Simply put, South Carolina could easily be a trap game, but given the limited number of opportunities for Josh Heupel this year, the Vols can’t let it become one. They absolutely have to win this matchup.