Tennessee last in SEC in future Power 5 non-conference games scheduled

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Which SEC teams are scheduling tougher future non-conference games with more than one Power 5 opponent per season? Which schools look like they schedule to be try to be bowl eligible?

I was on the panel of The Sports Source TV show last Sunday on WATE 6. On the show, host John Pennington shared some numbers on Power 5 non-conference opponents (including Notre Dame) scheduled by SEC schools and how low on that list Tennessee is.

So, I decided to update my blog from last year on this subject and share more numbers on that subject. Watch that segment below then take a look at the numbers in this post.

John’s show has a great group of analysts and VFLs in rotation to talk UT and SEC sports. The Sports Source airs weekly, Sundays 11am to 12:30pm, on WATE 6.

OT Wanya Morris, LB Henry To’oto’o & OT Darnell Wright / Credit: UT Athletics

John focused on 2020 to 2029 games. These below include all future games as far ahead as 2037 in some cases. Both sets of stats tell a similar story. The University of Tennessee has work to do to catch-up with the rest of the league that’s taking steps towards “scheduling up.”

I asked UT AD Phillip Fulmer this week if there were plans to toughen-up the future non-conference schedule. He said when he first started as AD, his reaction to the non-conference schedule was, “Gosh, why don’t we all play two Power 5 teams, out of conference Power 5 teams?” He said he learned, after a couple of years, that since they were fighting like heck to move-up in the SEC that they need to take care of the current games first and those other tougher non-conference games will come later. Read and listen to Fulmer’s full comments here.

My source for the schedule breakdown is FBSchedules.com, which is a fantastic website that posts games after being announced by schools. This is the site that gives us the annual helmet schedules for college football.

Future SEC Football Non-Conference Power 5 Games Scheduled
1. Georgia            36 (10 seasons with 2 P5s/4 seasons with 3 P5s)
2. Florida              30 (8 seasons with 2 P5s/2 seasons with 3 P5s)
3. South Carolina 23 (5 seasons with 2 P5s)
4. Alabama          22 (6 seasons with 2 P5s)
5. Missouri          18 (3 seasons with 2 P5s)
6. Ole Miss          14 (1 season with 2 P5s)
7. LSU                 13
8. Vanderbilt         12
8. Miss State        12
10. Texas A&M    10
11. Arkansas         9
11. Auburn            9
13. Kentucky        8
14. Tennessee      6


Power Five Opponents  – SEC Schools

Georgia

(vs. 9 teams) – 36 games
Georgia Tech (18)
Clemson (6)
Virginia
Oregon
Oklahoma (2)
UCLA (2)
Florida State (2)
Texas (2)
Ohio State (2)
*Group of Five Games – 7
FCS Games – 5
Total Games Set – 48
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2023

 

Florida

(vs. 7 teams) – 30 games
Florida State (18)
Utah (2)
Miami (2)
California (2)
Colorado (2)
Arizona State (2)
Texas (2)
*Group of Five Games – 7
FCS Games – 4
Total Games Set – 41
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2022

 

South Carolina

(vs. 4 teams) – 23 games
Clemson (18)
North Carolina
Miami (2)
Virginia Tech (2)
*Group of Five Games – 10
FCS Games – 4
Total Games Set – 37
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2024

 

Alabama

(vs. 12 teams) – 22 games
USC
Miami
Texas (2)
Wisconsin (2)
West Virginia (2)
Ohio St (2)
Florida State (2)
Notre Dame (2)
Georgia Tech (2)
Arizona (2)
Oklahoma (2)
Virginia Tech (2)
*Group of Five Games – 11
FCS Games – 3
Total Games Set – 36
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2023

 

Missouri

(vs. 5 teams) – 18 games
Illinois (8)
Kansas (4)
Boston College (2)
Kansas State (2)
Colorado (2)
*Group of Five Games – 26
FCS Games – 11
Total Games Set – 55
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2029

 

Ole Miss

(vs. 8 teams) – 14 games
Baylor
Louisville
Georgia Tech (2)
Wake Forest (2)
USC (2)
Oregon State (2)
Virginia Tech (2)
Purdue (2)
*Group of Five Games – 13
FCS Games – 8
Total Games Set – 35
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2026

 

LSU

(vs. 7 teams) – 13 games
Texas
UCLA (2)
Florida State (2)
Clemson (2)
Oklahoma (2)
Arizona State (2)
Utah (2)
*Group of Five Games – 11
FCS Games – 4
Total Games Set – 28
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2024

 

Vanderbilt

(vs. 6 teams) – 12 games
Stanford (4)
Kansas State
Wake Forest (2)
Virginia Tech (2)
NS State (2)
Purdue
*Group of Five Games – 15
FCS Games – 7
Total Games Set – 34
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2025

 

Mississippi State

(vs. 6 teams) – 12 games
NC State (2)
Arizona (2)
Arizona State (2)
Minnesota (2)
Texas Tech (2)
Washington State (2)
*Group of Five Games – 14
FCS Games – 8
Total Games Set – 34
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2022

 

Texas A&M

(vs. 5 teams) – 10 games
Colorado (2)
Miami (2)
Notre Dame (2)
Arizona State (2)
Louisville (2)
*Group of Five Games – 11
FCS Games – 6
Total Games Set – 27
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2025

 

Arkansas

(vs. 4 teams) – 9 games
Oklahoma State (4)
Notre Dame (2)
Texas
Utah (2)
*Group of Five Games – 18
FCS Games – 5
Total Games Set – 32
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2025

 

Auburn

(vs. 5 teams) – 9 games
North Carolina
Penn State (2)
California (2)
Baylor (2)
UCLA (2)
*Group of Five Games – 11
FCS Games – 3
Total Games Set – 23
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2023

 

Kentucky

(vs. 1 team) – 8 games
Louisville (8)
*Group of Five Games – 17
FCS Games – 7
Total Games Set – 32
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2025

 

Tennessee

(vs. 3 teams) – 6 games
Oklahoma (2)
Pittsburgh (2)
Nebraska (2)
*Group of Five Games – 8
FCS Games – 1
Total Games Set – 15
Earliest Open Scheduling Spot: 2021


Summary – Vince’s View:
There is no reason why a proud program with great football history like Tennessee should be last in the SEC in Power 5 games scheduled. Georgia has 30 more P5 games scheduled than UT, at the moment. Even if you took the annual Georgia Tech game out, Georgia still has 12 more games scheduled. That’s six home-and-home series. It’s a conservative wait-and-see approach that doesn’t match the justified confidence shown otherwise in third-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

There are a few other schools that also aren’t impressive in their Power 5 non-conference scheduling, like Kentucky, who has just one opponent (Louisville) 8 times. Then again, UT has never wanted to be compared to UK in football anything.

Tennessee’s future non-conference schedule needs to be beefed-up for the fans and for business (yes, when things return to normal.) Early-season high-profile games can bring you gate revenue, even if the team isn’t competing for championships. Tougher opponents give you the chance to learn about your team. Those challenges make you better. Plus, it gives you a chance to advance your program quicker when you win those games.

With scheduling of Power 5 opponents needing to be done so far in advance, UT can ill afford to wait until it returns to prominence. If UT schedules eight years in advance after starting to win again, who’s to say UT will still be winning then? Or, what if UT does put it together competing for a college football playoff position one year in the future, but it’s playing three or four weak non-conference opponents and you need that strength of schedule boost? Will UT miss out on a playoff opportunity?

Fulmer also told us that that scheduling Power 5 schools is “a little bit” tough. What if your choices of opponents become more limited if you wait? THat could delay the enhancement of the schedule.

A smaller percentage of fans don’t want too difficult of a schedule, especially considering Alabama being on the schedule every year. I’ve been told and read, “You have to start beating the Georgia States before you take on the big boys.” I’ve heard all the arguments against a tougher schedule. I don’t buy any of them. I don’t think most feel that way though.

I’d like to see UT schedule like it expects to be good to great. The trend is going towards a tougher schedule in the SEC, even with a challenging conference slate, so UT needs to keep up with the upper part of the conference rather than drawing comparisons to the bottom end of the league. If for no other reason, do it because fans want and deserve better games.

Find more of my broadcasting work at VinceSports.net.

Blogs

Weather

  • Forecast
  • Currents
  • Planner