UT in five 'fabulous' games

Five of the top 40 games in college football this fall will involve the Tennessee Volunteers, and four of them will be played in the 104,000-seat playhouse known as Neyland Stadium. At least, that's the opinion of Tom Dienhart, a college football analyst for Sporting News.

Dienhart compiled a list of this fall's most intriguing games and posted it at Sportingnews.com under the heading "Fabulous 59: College football's best games."

His top five is as follows:

1. Ohio State at Texas, Sept. 9

2. LSU at Auburn, Sept. 16

3. Notre Dame at Southern Cal, Nov. 25

4. Florida State at Miami, Sept. 4

5. Florida at Florida State, Nov. 25

Dienhart ranks Tennessee's Sept. 2 opener against visiting California No. 16 on his list. He tabs the Vols' Sept. 16 game with visiting Florida No. 19. UT's Oct. 7 trip "between the hedges" at Georgia is No. 23 and the Vols' Nov. 4 showdown with visiting LSU is No. 27. Finally, Tennessee's Oct. 21 visit from Alabama is tabbed No. 37.

Though coming off a 5-6 season, Tennessee is seen as a potential top-20 team in 2006 because of the return of quarterback guru David Cutcliffe as offensive coordinator. The five games Dienhart pinpoints should be dandies because the opponents are all quality teams. For instance:

California has 18 starters back from a team that went 8-4 in 2005. The Golden Bears are a top-20 team in virtually every preseason ranking.

Florida returns 15 starters from a team that went 9-3 last fall. The Gators also are a top-20 team in virtually every preseason ranking.

Georgia returns 11 starters from a squad that went 10-3 last year and won the SEC title. The Bulldogs are a top-20 team in most preseason rankings.

LSU has 13 starters back from a team that went 11-2 and won the SEC West a year ago. The Tigers will be looking for revenge after suffering their only regular-season loss of 2005 to Tennessee.

Alabama returns 14 starters from a squad that went 10-2 last season and ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense. Bama held Tennessee without a touchdown last fall in a 6-3 triumph.

To view Dienhart's entire list, go to Sportingnews.com, click on the college football link, then click on "Fabulous 59: College football's best games."


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