How the Vols' future opponents did this week: South Alabama

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I Know What You Did Last Week: A quick look at how Tennessee's remaining opponents performed this past weekend.

Mixing things up just a bit this week by posting this today and posting the update on Tennessee's statistical rankings tomorrow. So how do we feel about the rest of the season in the wake of the Florida loss?

First, let's talk just about the Vols without regard to how their opponents did this week. If you're new here, you should know that I like my optimism bias like Linus likes his blankey. I've drug that thing through the dust of 2005 and 2008 and through both the Kiffin and Dooley eras, and I don't care if its tattered, torn, and stinky. It's mine, and it makes me feel good. Here's what it's telling me today.

I hate squandering opportunities as much as I hate losing to Florida, and doing both in the same day is a debilitating sucker punch to the gut by a 10-year-old schoolgirl in front of your friends. But there is some good news to be found in the rubble. Yes, really. Florida's defense is awesome, and we did some good against it. And as bad as finding out how poorly our second string quarterback would play in a big game was, at least we found out how poorly our second string quarterback would play in a big game, you know? To channel Thomas Edison, there is a certain kind of success in discovering something that didn't work. So that's a "failing fast" frame of mind to which I can subscribe for now. We don't yet know the answer going forward, but we gained some knowledge that is beneficial.

I'll say this again, too. It's one thing to make predictions on paper over the summer. Yeah, we're going to win six or seven games. We're going to lose to Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, and we have almost no chance against Alabama and Oregon. That's easy enough to say and digest because it's relatively pain-free. But it's another thing entirely to go through the emotion of it. Predicting losses to Oregon and Florida didn't pack the same wallop as actually losing to them because now we know the details, and it's the details and the actual experience that drain you and test your resolve. But at the end of the day, you're right where you thought you'd be. So right now, so far, I'm not changing any preseason predictions. It feels worse, yeah, but I am not yet convinced that it actually is worse than I thought it was going to be.

Now on to our future opponents.

South Alabama Jaguars (2-1, 1-0 Sun Belt, NR)

  • Week 1: Lost to the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, 22-21.
  • Week 2: Won at Tulane, 41-39.
  • Week 3: Beat Western Kentucky at home, 31-24. WKU threw three interceptions, so maybe it was them more than us.
  • Week 4: Off
  • Joel feels __________ about this game this week: SAME AS LAST WEEK, which was WORSE THAN BEFORE THE SEASON, BUT STILL NOT BAD. Win, but we better take them seriously.

Georgia Bulldogs (2-1, 1-0 SEC, #9)

  • Week 1: Lost at Clemson, 38-35.
  • Week 2: Beat South Carolina, 41-30.
  • Week 3: Off.
  • Week 4: Beat North Texas, 45-21.
  • Joel feels __________ about this game this week: A LITTLE BETTER? I don't know. I'll keep saying it, but I'll never feel confident about predicting a Georgia game. They seemed to fall asleep against North Texas, but then they woke up and pulled away. And they're not likely to fall asleep against Tennessee. Or are they? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they could lose this game or they could win it. Fairly confident in that, but that's about as far as I'll venture from the safety of the tree trunk.

South Carolina (2-1, 1-1 SEC, #12)

  • Week 1: Beat North Carolina, 27-10.
  • Week 2: Lost at Georgia, 41-30.
  • Week 3: Beat Vanderbilt, 35-25.
  • Week 4: Off.
  • Joel feels __________ about this game this week: THE SAME, meaning this is still our best opportunity for an upset.

Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0, 1-0 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 mischievous 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.
  • Joel feels __________ about this game this week: Huh? 31-6 over the Rams? WE'RE GOING TO BEAT THEM THIS YEAR! WOOO! Yeah, no. THE SAME. Loss.

@Missouri Tigers (3-0, 0-0 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.
  • Joel feels __________ about this game this week: WORSE? I know it's Indiana, but Rock M Nation's recap says that the Tigers "totally destroyed and demoralized" Indiana in the second half, and I go into convulsions whenever those two D words are typed within eyeshot of me. I'm not ready to change this prediction to a loss, but this one's one to watch.

Auburn Tigers (3-1, 1-1 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 can assemble a greater number of players into a coherent team than he can string words together into a coherent sentence? I know that's not breaking news or anything, but he somehow continues to reach new heights of huh. Anyway . . .
  • Joel feels __________ about this game this week: WORSE, AND GETTING CLOSE TO CHANGING HIS MIND. I do NOT want to see Gus Malzahn get up to speed. He still has several weeks to do so, though, and I fear his team will be humming by the time they play Tennessee. I'm beginning to depress myself, so I'm going to stop now and go watch more Les Miles videos.

Vanderbilt Commodores (2-2, 0-2 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.
  • Joel feels __________ about this game this week: THE SAME. Win.

@Kentucky Wildcats (1-2, 0-0 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.
  • Joel feels __________ about this game this week: THE SAME. Win.

Conclusion after Week Four

Not much changes for me again this week except that I'm edging ever so closer to actual change. I'm still predicting 7-5 with losses to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Auburn is now on the wrong side of the bubble, though. Will I be able to make it through all of the actual pain-in-the-details of those Ls below without my preseason predictions taking a hit? Stay tuned.

Opponent Preseason Prediction Revised Prediction Result
Austin-Peay W W W
Western Ky. W W W
Oregon L L L
Florida L L L
South Alabama W W
Georgia L L
South Carolina L L
Alabama L L
Missouri W W
Auburn W W
Vanderbilt W W
Kentucky W W
Record 7-5 7-5 2-1 (0-0)
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