The SEC recently announced that the conference will be moving to a 10-game schedule featuring only SEC opponents for the 2020 season.
For the Tennessee Vols, and the rest of the SEC, that means two additonal conference opponents.
We don’t know exactly how the SEC will determine who Tennessee’s two extra SEC opponents in 2020 will be. There have been rumors that the additional opponents will be each team’s next two rotating SEC opponents (for UT that would be Ole Miss and LSU). It’s also been rumored that a strength of schedule formula will be used.
However, while we don’t know which two extra teams Tennessee will play in 2020, we do know it will be two out of five programs in the SEC West.
The Vols already play every team in the SEC East (six games) plus Alabama and Arkansas from the SEC West. That leaves two opponents from the following five schools:
- Mississippi State
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
Obviously the dream scenario for Tennessee would be adding Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but that almost certainly won’t be the case.
Here’s how I’d ranked the Vols’ potential additional opponents in 2020.
5. Mississippi State
4. Ole Miss
Ole Miss and Mississippi State are close, but I give the edge to the Rebels because of Lane Kiffin’s recent experience in the SEC as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. Neither team, despite having new coaches, will be an automatic win in 2020, though. The Bulldogs bring in Stanford transfer K.J. Costello at quarterback, who should be a good fit in Mike Leach’s offense. Ole Miss, on the other hand, returns Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee.
2. Texas A&M
I think it’s quite close between Auburn and Texas A&M, too. I give the edge to the Aggies here mainly because the Tigers have to replace four starters on the offensive line. And they have a new play caller in Chad Morris. I’m still not a big believer in Jimbo Fisher, but on paper, they should be a contender in the SEC West. Both opponents will be tough — especially if the Vols have to play either of them on the road.
I know LSU lost a load of talent from their 2019 squad to the NFL (14 Tigers were drafted), but Ed Orgeron’s team is still loaded with talent. LSU has the best wide reciever in the nation in Ja’Marr Chase and the best defensive back in Derek Stingley. Myles Brennan will take over at quarterback, and while he’s no Joe Burrow, he has an extremely strong arm and the experience of learning from Burrow for the past two seasons. Any schedule reveal that includes LSU will be a worst-case scenario for the Vols.
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