As always, first a few words on the Vols' performance over the weekend and what it would mean for the rest of the season regardless of opponents. I doubt I'm alone in feeling like the team turned some kind of corner against Georgia. It may have been that the Bulldogs were hung over from a grueling schedule and fighting injuries, but Tennessee sure looked like it belonged in a game against a Top 10 team. The running game, which has been there all season, was firing on all cylinders. The passing game, which hasn't been there all season, found at least (and maybe more than) enough of a rhythym to discourage opponents from selling out to stop the run. The defense held a highly potent offense to its lowest point total of the season. And special teams was not only solid, but game-changing.
A day removed from the emotion, one might say that the Bulldogs' defense isn't really all that good so we shouldn't get excited about moving the ball against them. And one might say again that the offense was just flat and dealing with multiple injuries and a resulting search for chemistry. One might say that. But I just say woo. I feel better about these Vols after this weekend. A lot better.
So let's look at how our future opponents did this weekend.
South Carolina (4-1, 2-1 SEC, #13)
- Week 1: Beat North Carolina, 27-10.
- Week 2: Lost at Georgia, 41-30.
- Week 3: Beat Vanderbilt, 35-25.
- Week 4: Off.
- Week 5: Squeaked by UCF, 28-25.
- Week 6: Beat Kentucky, 35-28.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: CAUTIOUSLY A LOT BETTER. Kentucky scored 21 points against the Gamecocks in the 4th quarter to make a game of it this weekend. Kentucky. We should entertain the possibility that the Wildcats are better than we think. Sure, they're 1-4, but their losses are to Western Kentucky, #7 Louisville, #20 Florida, and #13 South Carolina. But the Gamecocks have lost to Georgia and practically squeaked by Vanderbilt, UCF, and Kentucky. And with the Vols looking good against Georgia, yeah, I'm feeling even better about this game than I did at the beginning of the season when I thought it was the Vols' best opportunity for an upset. Make no mistake, it will still be an upset, but the opportunity is there and growing.
Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC, #1)
- Week 1: Roasted the Hokies, 35-10.
- Week 2: Decided that they needed a break after one game. Or decided that they wanted to stockpile arms and diagram particularly mischievious and devious methods of embarrassment for that Johnny Football guy.
- Week 3: Beat #6 Texas A&M, 49-42.
- Week 4: Beat Colorado State, 31-6.
- Week 5: Beat Ole Miss, 25-0.
- Week 6: Beat Georgia State, 45-3.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: NOT ENOUGH BETTER. There's not much you can tell from a game like Alabama-Georgia State. Don't misinterpret "not enough better." It basically means that I think the chances for an upset against Alabama have increased, but they were extraordinarily low to begin with and haven't increased much. I can't bring myself to think that there's any way it could happen, and yet there's a faint tickling of something telling me I better watch because sometimes things happen (and that's the same thing I said about Georgia).
@Missouri Tigers (5-0, 1-0 SEC, NR)
- Week1: Beat the Murray St. Racers (zoom!), 58-14.
- Week 2: Beat Toledo (poor Toledo), 38-23.
- Week 3: Off. What's with everyone taking a break almost as soon as the season begins?
- Week 4: Beat Indiana, 45-28.
- Week 5: Beat Arkansas State, 41-19. Play an SEC game already, won't you, Missouri?
- Week 6: Beat Vandy, 51-28.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: SAME. So the Tigers finally played an SEC game. But it was against Vanderbilt. But they dominated them. But Tennessee looks better this week, too. I kept this one as a win last week, and I'm keeping it there again this week, but I'm really not feeling good about it. They have Georgia this week, so we'll know more then.
Auburn Tigers (4-1, 2-1 SEC, NR)
- Week 1: Beat Washington State, 31-24.
- Week 2: Beat the Arkansas State Red Wolves, 38-9.
- Week 3: Beat Mississippi State, 24-20.
- Week 4: Lost to LSU, 35-21. Does anyone else find it simply astonishing that Les Miles string more players into a team than he can words into a coherent sentence? I know that's not breaking news or anything, but he somehow continues to reach new heights of huh. Anyway . . .
- Week 5: Off.
- Week 6: Beat Ole Miss, 30-22.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: SAME. Last week, I changed this from a preseason prediction of Win to Loss, and after they knocked off ranked Ole Miss, I'm keeping them there. The Vols look better. The Tigers continue to look better. This could end up being a pretty good game against pretty good teams rather than just a close game for the wrong reasons.
Vanderbilt Commodores (3-3, 0-3 SEC, NR)
- Week 1: Lost to Ole Miss, 39-35.
- Week 2: Beat Austin-Peay, 38-3.
- Week 3: Lost to South Carolina, 35-25.
- Week 4: Beat UMass, 24-7.
- Week 5: Beat UAB, 52-24.
- Week 6: Lost to Missouri, 51-28.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: BETTER. I think we got this.
@Kentucky Wildcats (1-4, 0-2 SEC, NR)
- Week 1: Lost to Western Kentucky, 35-26.
- Week 2: Beat Miami of Ohio, 41-7.
- Week 3: Lost to Louisville, 27-13.
- Week 4: Off.
- Week 5: Lost to Florida, 24-7.
- Week 6: Lost to South Carolina, 35-28.
- Joel feels __________ about this game this week: MAYBE A LITTLE BETTER? Still a WIN, but as I pointed out above, these guys have played a really difficult schedule. I kind of feel about them like I do about Missouri, but from the other side of the coin: You can look at their record and draw some conclusions, but just maybe you can't really tell yet.
Conclusion after Week Six
So there's no change for me from last week in the win/loss column. My prediction is still one game different from preseason thanks to Auburn. Guessing 6-6 with remaining losses to South Carolina, Alabama, and Auburn.
What do y'all think?
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