SEC 2009 // Tennessee's Timetable

This is simply an overview of each of the season's games; predictions come Thursday.

9.5 :: vs. Western Kentucky
If the Vols lose this one, Boy Wonder could be gone by October. He won't be going anywhere that quickly.

9.12 :: vs. UCLA
In retrospect, the loss on the West Coast was what should have set off major alarms last  year. The Bruins are a year into their rebuilding effort, while the Vols are just beginning theirs. This could be an interesting game and an interesting measuring stick for both teams.

9.19 :: at Florida
The game of the first half of the season in the SEC, and maybe one of the most anticipated September games in the nation. The Vols haven't defeated the Gators since 2004 and have lost the last two games by a combined 89-26 margin. But watch as C&F gives Lane Kiffin credit -- I think this might be an example of Boy Wonder knowing what he's doing. The narrative going into this game will inevitably be: "How many points will Florida hang on Tennessee? 50? 60? 70?" The expectations will be so high that even if Florida wins 35-7, it will look like a moral victory for Tennessee. And if Florida wins 50-3 -- well, that's what they were supposed to do. Kiffin can't lose this game, and if he wins, it could turn the entire season on its head.

9.26 :: vs. Ohio
Phil Steele has the Bobcats winning the MAC East and Ohio kept things uncomfortably close for Ohio State and Northwestern last year. If Kiffin is going to have one of those first-year meltdowns, this would be the most likely candidate.

10.3 :: vs. Auburn
The Tigers should glide through all but one of their first four games (Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Ball State) and boast a fairly meaningless 4-0 or 3-1 record at this point. This game will help shake out the middle tier of the SEC this year and could be the difference for one of these teams between Shreveport or home in December.

10.10 :: vs. Georgia
Kiffin's barbs for Georgia have been relatively tame or of questionable origin, meaning there might not be quite as much build-up for this game as for the match-up with Florida. After routing the Dawgs for two consecutive years, the Vols fell to Georgia last year.

10.24 :: at Alabama
If the Florida game isn't the biggest tilt of the year, this one is. Nick Saban is 4-1 against Tennessee, including winning his first two games as the helm of the Tide. While that probably wasn't the reason Phil Fulmer was shown the door, it certainly gave the Vols one fewer reason to keep him around.

10.31 :: vs. South Carolina
Expect to hear a week of questions about whether Kiffin actually made the "pumping gas" gaffe or the South Carolina recruit involved made it up. Not that Steve Spurrier would use the quote for a motivational tool regardless of its legitimacy. That would be so unlike him, don't you think? The Ol' Ball Coach has one two of the four match-ups between his Gamecocks and the Vols.

11.7 :: vs. Memphis
A mediocre C-USA team should give the Vols a breather after three rivalry or quasi-rivalry games. Might be close simply because of the harsh run-up and the Rebels and two more rivalry games lurking on the other side.

11.14 :: at Ole Miss
The craziest coaches in the SEC match wits, as Houston Nutt's Rebels come off a brutal game the previous week against Northern Arizona. But Ole Miss has a 12-game losing streak to Tennessee, and could get caught looking ahead to the following week's game against LSU.

11.21 :: vs. Vanderbilt
The Commodores' 2005 win is their only victory in the last 26 games and just their ninth since the Hoover Administration. Even last year's Vanderbilt team couldn't break through against the Vols. Could they pull an upset and shut up Kiffin? Okay, at least "pull an upset"?

11.28 :: at Kentucky
Kentucky's newfound success has not included a single against the Vols, even during Tennessee's disastrous 2008 season. UT has won the last 24 games between these two.

--

MONDAY: Tennessee Hopes Change Brings Changes; Lane Kiffin Was Risky, Not a Bad, Hire
LATER TODAY: The Tennessee Coaches Meet
WEDNESDAY: The Depth Chart
THURSDAY: Predictions
FRIDAY: Feedback and Conclusions

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