Tennessee will have full house, high hopes for football opener

This much is certain: Butch Jones can draw a crowd.

The University of Tennessee announced that Sunday’s 2014 football opener against Utah State is sold out. The last time the Volunteers sold out their first home game in a season was 2007. That also was the last time they topped 100,000 in attendance in their home opener.

It can’t be the opponent. Utah State only played before crowds of more than 35,000 twice last season — and both of those were in road games.

It’s not recent success. UT has not made a bowl game since 2010 and has not won one since 2008. It was 5-7 in 2013, the first season with Jones as coach.

Jones repeatedly has sold top recruits on the potential of the program, though, and now apparently fans are buying in as well.

Ticket sales for the UT home openers from 2007-14:

2014 vs. Utah State - 102,455
2013 vs. Austin Peay - 97,169
2012 vs. Georgia State - 87,821
2011 vs. Montana - 94,661
2010 vs. UT Martin - 99,123
2009 vs. WKU - 98,761
2008 vs. UAB - 98,205
2007 vs. Southern Miss - 106,311