BY KEVIN CONNELL (@_KevinConnell)
Tennessee and Virginia Tech play in one of college football’s marquee September matchups, so understandably it remains a heavy point of discussion even months before kickoff.
During their scheduled appearance at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. on Tuesday, some of the Volunteers’ representatives were asked about the Sept. 10 game at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones said preparations for the game known as “Battle at Bristol” are going smoothly.
“Our administrative staff led by Chris Spognardi has done a great job,” Jones said. “They are up there almost every week working with the representatives from Bristol Motor Speedway. They've done a good job taking our input. It is a home game for us, all of the logistics that go into it.
“The most amazing thing today I think is the scoreboard that's already been placed over the track. It's something that if you haven't seen, go online and read about it, because it's magnificent. But it will be different. Everything is about communication and the sight lines with everything. So, again, where the coaches' booth is, all of that communication part of it, I think it will be a challenge. But this has been a number of years in the making, and there's a lot of people doing their due diligence behind the scenes.”
Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, though, would rather divert his attention to the Volunteers’ season opener against Appalachian State on Sept. 1 than the unusual game atmosphere in Week 2.
“The Battle at Bristol game we try not to get caught up on the experience, the hype, the stadium, stage, and number of people that are going to be there,” Reeves-Maybin said. “We focus on each other, focus on grinding, and don't focus on all the outside things.”
The game, the first ever at the venue, already has sold out all 150,000 seats, which will break an NCAA single-game attendance record. Michigan-Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2013 at Michigan Stadium had 115,109 fans.
Bristol Motor Speedway is located roughly halfway between Tennessee and Virginia Tech on the Tennessee-Virginia border. The track is 110 miles from Tennessee’s Knoxville campus and 131 miles from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. Virginia Tech hosts Liberty in its season opener on Sept. 3, while Tennessee plays Appalachian State on a rare Thursday night game on Sept. 1.
Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning and former Virginia Tech defensive end Bruce Smith will be participating in the game’s pregame coin toss.