An "Inside" look at the 2011 UT schedule

How good is this Tennessee team going to be in 2011? Go "Inside" for one man's take on the situation. Could the Vols go 10-2 or will it be 9-3 or 8-4? We go game by game and give you our opinion.

Some Vol fans had a problem with Tennessee dropping North Carolina from its schedule for this upcoming fall.

Some called out Mike Hamilton and then new Head Football Coach Derek Dooley, questioning why they would do such a thing.

Here is why they did it.

Not just to have an easier schedule, Tennessee proved last December that they can hold their own with the Tarheels. There were two main reasons for making the change, to give the Vols an extra home game against Buffalo, and to help build early confidence for a young but talented football squad.

Now the fall of 2011 is around the corner and InsideTennessee.com thought we would take an early look at what this year's schedule holds for Vol Nation.

Tennessee opens up with Montana.

If Dooley and company wanted a gimme game, this by far isn't it. The Grizzlies have won or played for several 1-AA National Championships over the years and is quite capable of pulling off an upset if a major team overlooks them. A focused UT team should win this one, it may not be by the score some would like, but a win is a win.

Next on the schedule is Cincinnati.

Vols fans wouldn't be snubbing their noses at the Bearcats if Brian Kelly was still their coach. This Bearcat team will still be talented and it may be a better game than some expect, but it's a much easier game to win than the Vols matchup in Neyland Stadium with Oregon last fall.

Tennessee goes on the road to Gainesville.

A confident 2-0 Vol team will invade the Swamp with upset on its mind. This will be the most beatable Florida team that Tennessee has faced in a long time. Yes it's in the Swamp and the Vols haven't done great things there, but hey Ole Miss beat them there even while Tebow was still there. I have to go toss-up with this one at this point. The Gators will have a lot more unanswered questions than the Vols will early on.

Open week comes Week 4, giving the Vols an early week of preparation a time to catch their breaths and look at a tough upcoming October schedule.

Tennessee host Buffalo.

This game means more revenue for the athletic coffers at Rocky Top. This game gives the Vols a chance to either bounce back from a loss against Florida before returning to a hard SEC schedule or its a chance to pick up win number 4 headed into their October 8 home matchup against Georgia. How high will the Vols be rising in the national rankings if they are 4-0 after its first four ballgames? Don't rule it out from the realm of possibilities.

Guys I have been in Knoxville for two years.

I witnessed a butt whippin issued by the home team in the Tennessee vs. Georgia matchup the last two seasons. The home team always seems to have the advantage here. Some may feel that the Dawgs will have better talent, but honestly I don't see it to that extent. Tennessee could very easily be 4-1 or 5-0 after this ballgame.

LSU and Les Miles visits Rocky Top

How can you think that the Vols won't be favored in this one, especially if they are 5-0 or even 4-1. Derek Dooley and his teams have taken Miles to the carpet the last two years, one at Tennessee and the other while he was at Louisiana Tech. Both coaches have been accused of having time management issues, especially after last year's game. Tennessee thought to have won this game before having a 13 man on the field mistake. If this is a toss up game, how does it not go to Tennessee. 6-0 or 5-1

Now the hard part.

Tennessee has to go on the road to Alabama. This is always a tough game to pick but you would have to think the Tide will have the home field field advantage, right? Well what if the Vols head into Tuscaloosa undefeated at 6-0 or even 5-1, could the Vols pull off the upset, could but lets get to 6-0 or 5-1 before we take this win. Probably 6-1 or 5-2 at this point.

South Carolina will come calling to Knoxville, the last time they did they ran into a Black Wall.

The Gamecocks were not impressive as the Vols dominated that game. This Gamecock team will be much more talented than the one two years ago or will it. Who will be USC's quarterback? They have some unanswered questions themselves. You still probably have to go with at least a toss up in this one. All depends on what has happened in the prior seven games. So 7-1 or 5-3 now heading into the home stretch

I truly see it possible for Tennessee to be 6-2 or at least 5-3 heading into their game with Middle Tennessee State. Make that 7-2 or 6-3 after the game with the Blue Raiders.

Some Vol fans are nervous about playing Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Yes the Razorbacks were 10-3 last season, but did you not get the memo Ryan Mallett has left for the NFL. Yes it's a road game and yes it will be a tough game, but it's not impossible to pull of a win. So 8-2 or 6-4 after this one.

Now for the fun part.

Yes it's time for Vanderbilt to visit Tennessee, so lets say 9-2 or 8-3 or 7-4

Then comes the Vols last SEC road trip of the year at Lexington, Kentucky.

It will be 27 and counting, so sorry I have to put the big W in this column. So that makes 10-2 or 9-3 or 8-4.

I truly think 9-3 is very reachable, very doable, very attainable.

Second year coaches in the SEC after having the type record Dooley did in his first season have responded with one of their best efforts.

Don't count out this young but very talented team from doing so. You heard it hear first Cotton Bowl or better.


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