By Dylan Becker
When I went back home to Maryland over the summer, people constantly asked me how our football team was. Performance wise, my answer has changed over the years, thankfully becoming more positive. But through times of triumph and defeat, one thing that I always bring up is the constant electric energy of a football game at Neyland on any given Saturday.
Probably the best thing about Tennessee football is how much people care, regardless of opponent. After an exciting 34-27 road win for the Vols over Pitt, the team returned home to Neyland to play the Akron Zips, who are not in any of the power-five conferences. A few years ago, this probably would have been a game where Neyland wouldn’t be at capacity. Given the Vols’ recent success, this was very much not true, as all 101,915 seats were filled Saturday night for Tennessee’s 63-6 win.
Like the Ball State home opener, Akron was a game fans knew wouldn’t be too difficult. By the fourth quarter, fans were able to relax and enjoy the social aspect of a home football game rather than express worry and concern about the score. The student section once again brought out a beach ball to be tossed around, yelled some very unusual chants, and I also had a pleasant conversation with a guy dressed as Olaf from Frozen. Low risk games allow fans to sit back, relax, and enjoy how great of a football team we have. Despite the fun we’ve had as fans over the past three weeks, next week is probably a good time to take things more seriously.
Next week’s match up against Florida is probably the biggest game to happen at Neyland in my four years here. Coincidentally, it will be the six year anniversary of the Vols’ last win against the Gators. My friends and I have been talking about this game ever since the schedule was released because Tennessee has a serious chance of beating the Gators for the first time since 2016. As the days have drawn closer and closer, the fan hype around next week kept growing. Barstool Sports announced they would be hosting their weekly show at The Hill Bar and Grill. When student tickets went live, the website crashed. That same day, it was announced that Neyland would be sold out and sections would also be checkered. But probably the biggest announcement is ESPN College Game Day coming to Knoxville for the first time, and here comes another major coincidence, since Tennessee beat Florida in 2016.
The past two home games have been cakewalks for the Volunteers. Fans have been able to have casual fun. Next week, Neyland needs to be louder than ever, more electric than ever, and more hype than ever, because the eyes of the entire country will be on Knoxville to show up and prove we deserve the attention and won’t give it up willingly.
Photo by Dylan Becker
About the Author
Hailing from Kent Island, MD, just an hour from Baltimore and DC, Dylan played hockey his entire life and has been a Capitals fan since day one. After 16 years of on ice action, he decided to hang up his skates in 2019, leave Maryland for Tennessee, and switch his focus to radio, talking about hockey whenever the opportunity arose on WUTK. In the Fall of 2020, Rock Solid Sports reached out to Dylan for his hockey expertise, to which he accepted and has been providing the Knoxville area with in depth knowledge of the NHL and reporting on the Ice Bears since. Dylan is also a fan of the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Nationals.