Week 2 of the college football season offers very little in terms of upset potential big, ranked clashes, without a single game of two ranked teams. However, finally getting to see The Battle at Bristol between Virginia Tech and Tennessee happen is something to look forward to, while Arkansas coming to spoil the season for TCU is probably the other game to look forward to if you’re looking for parity.
That is what happens when the opponents for the top 5 teams are UCF (playing at Michigan), Troy (coming to Clemson), Charleston Southern (hosted by Florida State), Western Kentucky (visiting Alabama), and Tulsa (traveling to Ohio State). Overall, the top 25 teams will be playing against six FCS teams this week, and only 5 games will feature power 5 teams on both sides of the ball, including an ACC conference game between Louisville and Syracuse.
So what’s so special about The Battle at Bristol? Well, it’s a game that’s going to shatter the attendance record in a football game, with more than 150,000 expected to show up to the Bristol Motor Speedway, mostly known as a NASCAR race track, nicknamed Thunder Valley and The Last Great Colosseum. The capacity of the place is 153,000, and the exact number doesn’t matter. It’ll exceed by a lot the 115,000 from 2013 watching Michigan play Notre Dame, the current record.
The track is 125 miles from Blacksburg and 110 miles from Knoxville, and interestingly enough, will host another football game 7 days later, hosting the game between East Tennessee State and Western Carolina, dubbed as Bucs at Bristol. This will be ETSU’s first Southern Conference home game since dropping football after the 2003 season, not reinstating the sport until 2015.
As for the football game itself, this might be a better way of knowing if Tennessee were way overhyped (#9 preseason ranking), as they fell 8 spots despite beating Appalachian State in week 1. The Hokies weren’t that impressive themselves, beating FCS team Liberty 36-13 to open the season, as they try to establish a new legacy, one that has nothing to do with Frank Beamer, now that Justin Fuente is the head coach.
TCU (#15) were another ranked team falling down the rankings after week 1, beating South Dakota State, but giving up 41 points while doing so. Arkansas aren’t ranked going into the season, but once again look to be one of the toughest games for anyone in football and especially the SEC. They didn’t really impress in week 1 either, beating Louisiana Tech 21-20, gaining only 297 yards, and needing a touchdown with 6:37 to go in order to take the lead and hold on to it for the win.
Being in the SEC West always means a gauntlet of a schedule for the Razorbacks, still waiting for that breakout season under Bret Bielema, into his fourth year with Arkansas. They’ve had two consecutive winnings seasons, including 8-5 last year, but despite the objective difficulties, the expectations are always sky high from this team, and showing that kind of sloppiness offensively will probably doom them against TCU, who might struggle stopping the ball, but have a lot more ways than Louisiana Tech to score.