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Two Most Important Games For The Volunteers

Volunteers gotta win these games.

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers enter 2015 on steady ground for the first time in recent memory. Some very good recruiting classes have been blooded, and return with experience. Questions remain, but pure talent isn't one of them. If Tennessee truly is a year away from competing for a SEC Championship, this will probably be the year the Volunteers start to make noise. There is no better way than winning the following two games.

September 12th vs Oklahoma

This will be an interesting matchup for Tennessee. Oklahoma projects to be vulnerable this season in several ways, and it'll be their first road game in front of what will be an excellent crowd in Knoxville. Additionally, UT probably doesn't feel much pressure to win this game relative to the Sooners. Oklahoma is coming off the humiliating bowl loss, has hired new coordinators, and will want to earn the scalp of a SEC team.

For Tennessee, this game is more about the symbolism as it could serve as a clarion call to a new age. Knocking off Oklahoma wins major bragging rights and builds momentum for the SEC grindhouse. Tennessee admirably continued to fight in the second half against Oklahoma last season, and made the game interesting. The Volunteers will be ready for this game, and undoubtedly a fair share of talking heads will pick Tennessee. A UT victory will announce the return of the Volunteers to the national conversation but, oddly,  would be banal in a few ways.

November 21st at Missouri

I think the Georgia or Florida games would also make sense, but ultimately Missouri is the other most important game of the season. This is a road game towards the end of the season when the Volunteers possible depth issues may come back to haunt them. Furthermore, Mizzou is typically playing their best football as the season progresses. If UT's ultimate goal is to win the SEC East, then they'll have to beat Mizzou in Columbia. Mizzou is considered Tennessee's measuring stick this season. They have three straight wins over Tennessee and have won the SEC East the last two seasons.