5. Ole Miss Rebels
Saturday, Oct. 16; Neyland Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
Expectations for the Ole Miss Rebels and Missouri Tigers are somewhat similar. Tennessee football plays Ole Miss two weeks after facing Mizzou. The goal for the Vols is to at least be 4-2 by that time, and we’ve already broken down two of the wins they should have, against the Bowling Green Falcons and the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles.
Despite Ole Miss being a tougher game than Mizzou on paper, the fact that UT hosts Ole Miss somewhat makes it more winnable. As a result, this is a game the Vols should actually focus heavily on, as winning it could give them some breathing room.
Look, the Vols may not win all the games they need to win to get to a bowl, so they have to steal a likely loss somewhere. Ole Miss is a great spot to do it. The two face off right before UT faces the Alabama Crimson Tide and then goes on a bye week. That’s two weekends the Vols shouldn’t worry about at all, as it’s a sure loss and then no game.
As a result, this should be the game in which the Vols devote all their efforts before spending time to regroup. There’s also the Lane Kiffin factor. UT will face Kiffin as a head coach for the first time since he left them. That makes getting a win even more important.