Over the past year or so, we've been keeping a keen eye on the comparison of 2010 Tennessee to 2007 Alabama. Three games into the season, I thought we'd take a quick look to see if the comparison is holding up. Below the jump is a table that compares the two schedules, with the games re-sorted in order of difficulty. Just doing that reveals that Tennessee's 2010 schedule is tougher than Alabama's was in 2007, so some allowance should probably be made for that. Tennessee has games against five opponents ranked in the top 15, while 2007 Alabama had only four games against opponents ranked in the top 22. (The rankings I used were those for the week the games were played, except of course for Tennessee's future opponents, in which case I used current rankings.) A straight up comparison pits our #1 (Alabama) against the Tide's #3 (LSU), our #7 against their #16, our #10 against their #21, and our #15 standing alone. We each played one FCS opponent, and Tennessee plays six unranked opponents to Alabama's seven. Four of each team's unranked opponents are SEC teams, but Tennessee's marquee out-of-conference opponent was 7th-ranked Oregon while Alabama's was unranked Florida State.
As far as results go, we each pasted our FCS opponents, but Tennessee is falling behind on ranked opponents so far. The Tide won both of its second most difficult games, one of them close (Arkansas, 41-38) and one of them a blowout (Tennessee, 41-17), while Tennessee has already lost its second and third most difficult games, one of them by two TDs (Florida, 31-17) and one of them a reverse blowout (Oregon, 13-48). Alabama lost its most difficult game (LSU, 34-41), and Tennessee likely lose its most difficult game against #1 Alabama.
That leaves the remaining ranked opponents (two for Tennessee and one for the Tide) and the soft middle of unranked opponents. Alabama lost its only other game against a ranked team (Georgia, 23-26), and we have games remaining against LSU and South Carolina, both of whom currently have higher rankings than even Alabama's second-most difficult game in 2007. Assuming those are losses for Tennessee, that would mean five losses for UT in its five most difficult games against a record of 2-2 for Alabama in its four most difficult games.
As for the soft middle, this is where Alabama really fell apart in 2007. They lost to unranked Auburn, Florida State, Mississippi State, and Louisiana-Monroe while beating Mississippi, Vanderbilt, and Houston. That's a record of 4-4 against unranked opponents. Tennessee has six games remaining against unranked opponents -- Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, UAB, and Memphis. In order for Tennessee fans to continue to find hope in a comparison of 2010 Tennessee and 2007 Alabama, it will need to make up ground against these unranked opponents.
Full schedule comparison after the jump.
|Opponent||Opp. Ranking||Score||Result||Opponent||Opp. Ranking||Score||Result|
|ALABAMA||(#1)||LSU||(#3)||34 - 41||L|
|OREGON||(#7)||13 - 48||L||ARKANSAS||(#16)||41 - 38||W|
|FLORIDA||(#10)||17 - 31||L||TENNESSEE||(#21)||41 - 17||W|
|@ South Carolina||(#12)||GEORGIA||(#22)||23 - 26||L OT|
|@ LSU||(#15)||@ Auburn||(NR)||10 - 17||L|
|@ Georgia||(NR)||@ Florida St.||(NR)||14 - 21||L|
|MISSISSIPPI||(NR)||@ Mississippi||(NR)||27 - 24||W|
|KENTUCKY||(NR)||@ Mississippi St.||(NR)||12 - 17||L|
|@ Vanderbilt||(NR)||@ Vanderbilt||(NR)||24 - 10||W|
|UAB||(NR)||HOUSTON||(NR)||30 - 24||W|
|@ Memphis||(NR)||LA.-MONROE||(NR)||14 - 21||L|
|TENN.-MARTIN||(FCS)||50 - 0||W||WESTERN CARO.||(FCS)||52 - 6||W|