As most Vol fans know, Tennessee is coming off of a 9-win season that ended with a 45-6 slamming of Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. With all of the pre-season hype and speculation many have pontificated about which games Tennessee must win to take this season to the championship level. So without further ado: Tennessee’s Top 4 Must-Win Games in 2016.
Some pundits and Vol supporters would have said Alabama is the top game Tennessee needs to win in 2016, but, I beg to differ. The Gators come into Knoxville on September 24 with an 11-game win streak in the series. Something that Tennessee needs to put behind them. This game is not only a huge rivalry, but would also put the Vols in a much easier position to win the East. This is most likely the biggest need for a win for Tennessee in this game. The win will also boost the fans and players as the Vols open up SEC play. This is why Florida is the biggest game Tennessee needs to win in 2016, something they will most likely do, and possibly in blowout fashion.
Tennessee’s top rival, Alabama, comes to Knoxville on Oct. 15, the 3rd Saturday in October rivalry. Last year Tennessee was barely edged out by a score of 19-14. This season the Vols will have to bring the heat to prove they are a championship caliber team over Alabama. Tennessee just might have what it takes to take down the Tide and show Alabama offensive coordinator and former Vols coach Lane Kiffin, who will rule the SEC now.
3. Texas A&M
The Vols 3rd SEC game of the season falls on October 8th against Texas A&M in College Station. The Vols need to keep their focus if they are to win this game. It is scheduled right after the Florida and Georgia games, and it is the game before the matchup that features Tennessee against Alabama. This will be a tough away game for the Vols. The Orange Swarm defense looks to corral the WR core of the Aggies. The Big Orange offense looks to go up against an all-SEC player in Myles Garrett. The Vols will need to stay focused and ready for battle, in what will most likely be a very interesting matchup.
Tennessee’s 4th biggest must-win game in 2016 is Georgia. The Vols and Bulldogs will meet in Athens on October 1st. Last season Tennessee outlasted Georgia by a score of 38-31 in a thriller at Neyland Stadium. Georgia enters the season with a bit of a question mark at quarterback, but will probably find the answer by the time the two teams meet in October. This is big game in terms of the SEC East, and Tennessee will need to go ahead and put this one in the bag early on in the game. The Vols will most likely come out on top in this pivotal SEC matchup.