While the Big Ten and Pac-12 are currently opting to sit out, the SEC has charged ahead and has created a 10-game slate for all members.
In addition to the usual six games scheduled against their respective division opponents, the SEC now has paired each team with four non-division games.
As it stands, the Volunteers are scheduled to kick off the season on September 26 at South Carolina.
Tennessee’s home opener will be on October 3 against Mizzou.
From there, the following month divides up two of the Vols’ more challenging games.
Tennessee travels to Georgia on October 10, but returns home for a two-game home stand against Kentucky and Alabama before making the trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas to face the Razorbacks on Nov. 7.
The final four games consist of Texas A&M in Knoxville on November 14, followed by away games at Auburn and Vanderbilt.
Tennessee closes the season on December 5 against border rival Florida.
The schedule doesn’t do the Volunteers many favors, especially in facing two of the more competitive SEC West rivals in Texas A&M and Auburn, in addition to Tennessee’s annual meeting with Alabama.
Regardless of how far Jeremy Pruitt has elevated the Volunteers in terms of recruiting, at the end of the day, the Vols still have to make the translation into on-field wins.
Against the division opponents, Tennessee can’t afford a slip in Week 1.
South Carolina and Kentucky have to be wins for the Vols in order to post a .500 season in 2020.
Barring upsets, if recent trends are anything to use as indication, facing Alabama and Georgia haven’t gone the Vols’ way.
Tennessee last beat Georgia in 2017 and you have to go back more than a decade to find the Vols’ last win against Alabama.
The Vols’ last win against the Crimson Tide was a 16-13 victory in 2006.
Like the lopsided record against Alabama, Tennessee has just one win against Florida since 2004, which came in 2016.
If those three games go the way history has tended to favor for the last 15 years, the Vols have a possible seven games to be competitive in.
Tennessee has met Auburn just twice in the last decade, with the last win being a 30-24 win on the road.
If Tennessee wants to showcase a season that bucks the trend of recent results, the Vols have to make it two straight wins against the Tigers on the road.
While upsets happen and certainly aren’t out of the question in any rivalry, the schedule makes it difficult for Tennessee to make a push toward the SEC championship.
Either way, the Volunteers will have to face the uphill battle to push into a winning season during 2020.
Sept. 26: Tennessee at South Carolina
Oct. 3: Mizzou at Tennessee
Oct. 10: Tennessee at Georgia
Oct. 17: Kentucky at Tennessee
Oct. 24: Alabama at Tennessee
Nov. 7: Tennessee at Arkansas
Nov. 14: Texas A&M at Tennessee
Nov. 21: Tennessee at Auburn
Nov. 28: Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Dec. 5: Florida at Tennessee