Virginia Makes Good Move With Tennessee Football Game

Young Virginia players like Stevie Bracey could get a chance to play against Tennessee. It’s four hours from Atlanta, Bracey’s hometown, to Nashville. ~ Photo courtesy of Jim Daves/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

Virginia and Tennessee announced Monday that they would kick off the 2023 football season with a game in Nashville. The matchup is set for Saturday, Sept. 2 with time and television details to follow at a later date.

The Cavaliers made a good decision in scheduling the game as Tony Elliott tries to elevate the program. This contest checks boxes for fan engagement, measuring sticks, recruiting, and finance reasons. There may be drawbacks related to one less home contest on the schedule (the 2023 projection is 6 home, 5 away, 1 neutral), potential game outcomes, and potentially creating a tougher path to bowl eligibility. Still, this looks like a good move on balance.

Back to those boxes. First and foremost, this game packs a little punch for fan interest.

Outside of the ACC-affiliated games with Notre Dame, few non-conference games of late have combined both name recognition and regional access at this level with Tennessee. Recent non-con games have included BYU, Illinois, Indiana, UConn, Boise State, Oregon, UCLA, and others. Obviously those Oregon teams were nationally ranked and BYU was rolling last season so this isn’t referencing opponent quality specifically.

A 2015 Sabre poll showed Tennessee as the No. 7 choice among fans for the question “Which previous Power 5 opponent would you like to see back on the schedule?” The ranking order in that poll came out as Vanderbilt, Maryland, Georgia, Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina, and Kentucky as the top 10. Fans get to see both the Vols and Terps on the 2023 schedule. (A second poll asked which Power 5 opponent would fans like to see for the first time and Northwestern ranked first.)

Which Previous Power 5 Opponent Would You Like To See Back On The Schedule?

  • Vanderbilt (21 times) (15%, 117 Votes)
  • Maryland (78 times) (11%, 85 Votes)
  • Georgia (19 times) (10%, 75 Votes)
  • Penn State (8 times) (10%, 74 Votes)
  • West Virginia (23 times) (8%, 64 Votes)
  • Michigan (1899, 1971, 1995) (6%, 49 Votes)
  • Tennessee (4 times) (6%, 46 Votes)
  • Texas (1977, 1995, 1996) (6%, 46 Votes)
  • South