The SEC is moving closer towards following in the Big Ten, ACC, and PAC-12’s footsteps by canceling all of its non-conference games in favor of a 10-game SEC schedule, sources told Sports Illustrated on Wednesday. While the university presidents still have to vote in favor of the resolution in order for the change to become official, the conference already knows which games it would add according to multiple sources who spoke with SI.
Tennessee’s new games would come against Ole Miss and the defending national champion LSU Tigers — which would undoubtedly toughen up the Vols’ already solid strength of schedule. While LSU is coming off one of the best seasons in their history, they lost a significant amount of talent from last season — facing the inevitable difficult task of replacing legendary quarterback Joe Burrow and one of the best offenses College Football fans have ever seen.
The last time the Vols and Tigers met was near the end of the 2017 season, when interim Tennessee head coach Brady Hoke squared off against the future national championship winning legend from Baton Rouge. The game took place in the middle of a monsoon, but the inclement weather would not result in any delay — as the Tigers cruised to a 30-10 victory in Knoxville.
As for Ole Miss, they will likely serve as a much more mellow contrast to the defending national champions, as they are coming off of an abysmal season which resulted in the termination of head coach Matt Luke. The program hired a familiar face for Vol Fans to replace Luke in Oxford: Lane Kiffin, who served one year as Tennessee's head coach prior to ditching the Volunteers in favor of his ‘dream school,” USC.
The last time the Vols met the Rebels was in 2014, when Hugh Freeze and No. 3 Ole Miss crushed Tennessee by a score of 34-3. Bo Wallace was able to slice Butch Jones’ secondary through the air all day long, and the Rebel’s defense had another impressive outing by holding the Vols to a mere one field goal.
If the SEC eventually does decide to move to a conference-only schedule, then Tennessee’s first match-up of the year would come against their arch rival to the south: The Florida Gators. If the conference decides to instead go the traditional route, then the Vols first game would be against the Charlotte 49ers in Neyland Stadium on September 5th. With the season looming on the horizon, fans can expect a definitive answer from the conference in the near future as COVID-19 cases spike all across the United States — especially in the south.
This is what the remaining cross conference games would look like across the SEC: