Tennessee Strength of Schedule: The SEC’s toughest schedule

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SDS takes a trip around the SEC and ranks the schedule strength of all 14 SEC teams. We’ll work our way down to the toughest schedule in the SEC.

2014 SEC Strength of Schedule Rankings:

How the NCAA ranks the SEC’s 2014 strength of schedule
#1: Tennessee strength of schedule
#2: Arkansas strength of schedule
#3: Florida strength of schedule
#4: Auburn strength of schedule
#5: Kentucky strength of schedule
#6: South Carolina strength of schedule
#7: Georgia strength of schedule
#8: LSU strength of schedule
#9: Texas A&M strength of schedule
#10: Ole Miss strength of schedule
#11: Mississippi State strength of schedule
#12: Alabama strength of schedule
#13: Missouri strength of schedule
#14: Vanderbilt strength of schedule

Butch Jones’ tough task won’t get any easier in 2014. The Vols are still rebuilding the roster while playing the SEC’s toughest strength of schedule that features two national favorites for the College Football Playoff. Tennessee’s 2014 strength of schedule isn’t for the faint of heart.

Tennessee strength of schedule for 2014:

2014 Tennessee Volunteers’ schedule

  • Aug. 31: Utah State
  • Sept. 6: Arkansas State
  • Sept. 13: at Oklahoma
  • Sept. 27: at Georgia
  • Oct. 4: Florida
  • Oct. 11: Chattanooga
  • Oct. 18: at Ole Miss
  • Oct. 25: Alabama
  • Nov. 1: at South Carolina
  • Nov. 15: Kentucky
  • Nov. 22: Missouri
  • Nov. 28: at Vanderbilt

By the Numbers

  • 7 home games
  • 5 away games
  • 1 power non-conference game
  • 6 projected preseason top 25 teams (Oklahoma, Georgia, Ole Miss, Alabama, South Carolina and Missouri)

Strength of Schedule Rank

  • SEC East: 1st
  • SEC overall: 1st

Notes:

  • Cross-divisional opponents: Ole Miss and Alabama
  • Opponents winning %: 101-54 (.652)
  • Bye weeks: Before Georgia and Kentucky
  • Biggest swing game: Florida

Tennessee’s 2014 schedule features one gimmie: Chattanooga. The Vols’ non-conference schedule features Utah State, Arkansas State, Oklahoma and Chattanooga. The Mocs aside, games against Utah State, Arkansas State and Oklahoma makes the Vols have the toughest non-conference schedule of any conference team, too. The Aggies feature one of college football’s most underrated players in QB Chuckie Keeton, and Oklahoma is a College Football Playoff favorite – and on the road, mind you. The Sooners will enter the season ranked as a preseason top five team. The non-conference opponents won an SEC-high 69.2 percent of their games.

Following three non-conference opponents to open the season, Tennessee travels to Georgia and hosts Florida. The Vols usually play the Bulldogs tough, and Florida is a wildcard with how well the offense will adapt to the new scheme. UT has lost nine straight to rival Florida (nine!).

Another brutal three-game stretch awaits against Ole Miss (road), Alabama and South Carolina (road), three preseason top 25 opponents. The bout against the Rebels will be a benchmark game between the two programs, while the Vols will be underdogs against the Tide and Gamecocks, and South Carolina is looking for some revenge after the Vols ruined their 2013 championship hopes.

The schedule closes out with an improved Kentucky team, Missouri and road game against Vanderbilt. The Wildcats aren’t a gimmie this season, and the Tigers and Commodores will be a dogfight.

After missing on three straight bowl games, Tennessee’s 2014 strength of schedule isn’t exactly welcoming. While choppy waters may lie ahead in the near future, Butch Jones has the program on track to winning a division crown in the next couple of years, 2015 and beyond.

Tennessee fans aren’t patient and are used to winning, but it’s going to take some time still to rebuild a fallen program. Just don’t run Coach Jones out of town.

Photo Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

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