As we approach our open date before the dread Tide roll in, now is a good time to reflect on our preseason prognostications to see how we are doing.
In the preseason, I had us at 8-4. I thought we'd win lose to Florida and Bama soundly. I also thought we'd lose to Georgia and Olde Mississippi. I had us winning the rest.
We came up a yard short in the UCLA game. And, Auburn's turnaround is catching everyone by surprise, so I can live with that. The Georgia game pulled my fat out of the prognosticating fire. So, I am upside down by one game as we hit the midpoint of the season.
Just a pause here to thank Georgia for giving us renewed hope. This column would be completely stupid without the utter destruction of Georgia to hang my hat on. Crompton was In-Cromparable and the defense shut down Georgia better than a box of Immodium.
Speaking of the utter destruction of Georgia - Georgia hasn't seen that much destructive force to its offensive capabilities since some fella named Sherman got a little too happy with the fire-sticks on his way to Savannah. For those who think that's overstatement, let me remind you that Georgia's offense failed to cross the Tennessee 34 at any point in the contest.
Back to the prognostication review
For the second half, I obviously had us going 4-2. To be "right" for the season, we have to end up 5-1 in the second half. That's probably best case, but how insane does it seem if we examine the proposition game-by-game?
Bama - A defense full of absolute stud athletes. I am still mystified how anyone scores a touchdown on them. Actually, I am more mystified how anyone runs more than 50 plays against them on Saturday and doesn't end up in the hospital on Sunday. At #2 on the planet in total defense, they deserve their own paragraph.
But Bama's offense is potentially beatable. The running backs and OL are beasts. But, if we somehow stop them from finding the exact distance from our esophagus to our colon while running the football (#11 Rush offense in the country), and if we keep their QB from lofting it to Julio (because that is the sum total of their pass offense), and if Crompton pulls a Georgia while Hardesty wears his superman outfit for one more game - then maybe. But, probably not. Loss.
South Carolina - I like this one because Spurrier's team has had the same close games that we have but has been luckier with the same good defense and average-ish offense formula that we employ. In other words, they are 5-1 but they aren't a scary-good 5-1. And, I just can't pick Spurrier to beat us. I just can't. It helps that we are at home. Win.
Memphis - Other than The Fluke, Memphis has never beaten Tennessee in football. This year will be no different as Memphis really deserves to be in the WKU category. This is a name-your-score special. Win.
Olde Mississippi - This is the swing game. I had them as a loss in the preseason. But, I am flipping it to a 'W' now. Snead is Cromptoning on them. Bama ran all over the Rebs but had to settle for 5 FG's. Is the Reb defense that good or was Bama's offense just not able to seal the deal? If Snead cromptons and Crompton is Georgia-Incromparable again, we win. You see where this is headed, right? I am back on track to 8-4. Win.
Vandy - Lost to Army in overtime and looked horrible scoring 3 points against Mississippi State. I keep my W.
Kentucky - Has looked "not awful" enough to at least make me pause, before reminding myself that Kentucky hasn't beaten Tennessee since 1984. And, we are improving, right? Win.
That's how I come to the conclusion that we really can make it improve from 3-3 in the first half to 5-1 in the second half and end the year at 8-4. Maybe I'm wrong and we finish 7-5. So, sue me.
We will still end up in the category I like to call, "bowl eligible". That means these freshmen practice for another 3 weeks and Kiffin gets to promote a bowl experience in his first year out on that great recruiting trail.
But more importantly, can't you just see Coach O celebrating a bowl win?