Historically, the matchup between Tennessee and No. 4 Oklahoma features two of the 10 winningest programs in college football history. Like Tennessee, Oklahoma enjoyed success in the 1970s and 80s, with a 102-13-3 (.877) winning percentage in the 80s and a 91-26-2 (.773) in the 80s.

But as Tennessee dominated through the 90s, Oklahoma saw mediocrity and a 61-51-3 (.543) record for the decade. Bob Stoops turned the program around upon his hire in 1999. Stoops lead the Sooners to a 162-39 (.806) record, eight Big 12 Championships and the 2000 BCS National Championship during his tenure in Norman.

Oklahoma’s success under Stoops is a model Tennessee coach Butch Jones hopes to follow.

“You look at illustrations throughout the course of the country of programs that have really been built on a foundation, a foundational value and have been around for a very long number of years,” Jones said. “You win with consistency and continuity. Consistent messaging, the players know what they’re getting every day.

“There’s a comfort level from a recruiting aspect that you know the coaches are going to be in place. It’s a whole great big conglomeration of everything that goes into it, and I think Oklahoma’s one of the models. Coach Stoops has done a tremendous tremendous job and that was a program that had so much tradition, and it does, but they were down a little bit and he came in and got it back going the right way.” 

Tennessee was 100-21-2 (.813) during the 90s and won three SEC Championships and the 1998 BCS National Title. However, during the last half-decade, the Vols have been a far cry from dominant and haven’t had a winning season during the 2010s.

“We are getting there but we are no where where we need to be,” Jones said. “I see us making progress and it is extremely hard because you are in an instant gratification society. I want it as fast and right now as much as anybody, it drives me everyday. But there are somethings, it takes time, it is a process.

The matchup features two very different programs. Oklahoma is regarded as one of the most consistent annual contenders in college football. Tennessee has struggled and is searching for its first bowl game appearance since 2010. Despite Bob Stoops’ displeasure toward the SEC, one must credit the job he’s done rebuilding Oklahoma into a national powerhouse. The Vols would be fortunate to match this success in the coming years of Butch Jones’ tenure with the program.