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Weighing the Vols' chances against their remaining schedule: Week 6

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With the hangover of another lost opportunity against Florida waning, what do we think the team's odds are against each of Tennessee's remaining opponents?

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know why I'm always surprised and amazed at how much our collective view of the team swings from one game to the next. After Tennessee's loss to Georgia by three points, we were all ponies and roses. Then we lose to a terrible Florida team, and we wail that the Vols are so awful we couldn't even light a match with Will Muschamp already tied to the stake by his own fans.

So are we the team that played a really good game against a really good Georgia team, or are we . . . whatever we saw against Florida? The truth is no doubt somewhere in between. Watching college football on Saturdays earns us a peculiar kind of emotional blindness on Sundays. Win and we're awesome; lose and we're horrible. Fortunately, it does gradually dawn on us as the hangover wanes that this is college football and sometimes even four of the top six teams in the nation all lose in the same weekend, even as favorites. With the aid of a couple of aspirin, we might even rediscover enough sense to remember that especially young teams are especially inconsistent.

So here it is Thursday After A Loss. How are we feeling about the Vols' remaining schedule now? We rank the remaining games, again with our own 5-30 point scale.

10/11/14: Chattanooga (3-2, 2-0 Southern, NR)

  • Week 1: Lost to Central Michigan, 20-16.
  • Week 2: Lost to Jacksonville State, 26-23 in overtime.
  • Week 3: Beat Austin-Peay, 42-6.
  • Week 4: Bye.
  • Week 5: Beat Samford, 38-24.
  • Week 6: Beat VMI, 55-7.
  • Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): 25. Yes, I am easing off the gas pedal here, but let's not get crazy.
EARLIER PREDICTIONS - UTC
W4 W5 W6
28 28 25

10/18/14: @Ole Miss (5-0, 2-0 SEC, #3)

  • Week 1: Beat Boise State, 35-13.
  • Week 2: Beat Vanderbilt, 41-3.
  • Week 3: Beat LA-Lafayette, 56-15.
  • Week 4: Bye.
  • Week 5: Beat Memphis, 24-3.
  • Week 6: Beat Alabama, 23-17.
  • Week 7: At Texas A&M.
  • Week 8: VOLS.
  • Week 9: At LSU.
  • Week 10: Auburn.
  • Week 11: Presbyterian.
  • Week 12: Bye.
  • Week 13: At Arkansas.
  • Week 14: Mississippi St.
  • Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): 9. A week ago (yes, after the Georgia game), I bumped this from 10 to 19. This week, because it's Thursday and I'm no longer thinking we're going to lose every play, I'm merely going back to 10 and subtracting 1 (because it's not yet Friday). I am still interested to see what the Rebs do with that tricky schedule, although LSU doesn't look as scary now as it did at the beginning of the season. But there is a chance that Ole Miss views Tennessee as their opportunity to rest a bit and a team against which they can roll out the B-Game. Maybe that will help.
EARLIER PREDICTIONS - OLE MISS
W4 W5 W6
10 19 9

10/25/14: Alabama (4-1, 1-1 SEC, #7)

  • Week 1: Beat West Virginia, 33-23.
  • Week 2: Beat Florida Atlantic, 41-0.
  • Week 3: Beat Beat Souther Miss, 52-12.
  • Week 4: Beat Florida, 42-21.
  • Week 5: Bye.
  • Week 6: Lost to Ole Miss, 23-17.
  • Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): 10. I moved this to 10 last week based on our Georgia performance, and losing to Ole Miss sort of validated the shadowy thought that they can be beat. Unfortunately, we're not as good as Ole Miss is yet. But we do get this one at home, so I'm leaving it as a 10, essentially giving us a point for home.
EARLIER PREDICTIONS - ALABAMA
W4 W5 W6
8 10 10

11/01/14: @South Carolina (3-3, 2-3 SEC, NR)

  • Week 1: Got pinned against Texas A&M at home, 52-28.
  • Week 2: Beat East Carolina, 33-23.
  • Week 3: Beat Georgia, 38-35.
  • Week 4: Beat Vanderbilt, 48-34.
  • Week 5: Lost to Missouri, 21-20.
  • Week 6: Lost to Kentucky, 45-38.
  • Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Two weeks ago, this was 15, and I moved the dial up to 21 after the Gamecocks lost to Missouri. Now that they've also lost to Kentucky, I'm going to conclude that 21 is just about right because I'm still afraid that Kentucky is this year's Missouri, the sneaky team that no one takes seriously until it's too late.
EARLIER PREDICTIONS - SOUTH CAROLINA
W4 W5 W6
15 21 21

11/8/14: Bye

11/15/14: Kentucky (4-1, 2-1 SEC, NR)

  • Week 1: Beat UT Martin, 59-14.
  • Week 2: Beat Ohio, 20-3.
  • Week 3: Barely lost to Florida in the Swamp, 36-30 in triple overtime.
  • Week 4: Bye.
  • Week 5: Beat Vanderbilt, 17-7.
  • Week 6: Beat South Carolina, 45-38.
  • Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): And yes, I'm going to stick with last week's ranking here as well. I said we'd find out more when they played South Carolina, and we did. But we'll find out still more in the coming weeks. They have UL Monroe and LSU in the next two weeks, but then they have three currently ranked opponents in a row: Mississippi State, Missouri, and Georgia. My prediction is that we think nothing of this week, that the LSU game is enough "Kentucky" that we think, "Yeah, these guys aren't ripe yet." But then they get beat by some good teams three weeks in a row and we're right back to dismissing them. And the trap will be set. DON'T TOUCH.
EARLIER PREDICTIONS - KENTUCKY
W4 W5 W6
20 20 20

11/22/14: Missouri (4-1, 1-0 SEC, #23)

  • Week 1: Beat South Dakota State, 38-18.
  • Week 2: Beat Toledo, 49-24.
  • Week 3: Beat UCF, 38-10.
  • Week 4: Lost to Indiana, 31-27.
  • Week 5: Beat South Carolina, 21-20.
  • Week 6: Bye.
  • Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Sticking with 18, which means that the more I write, the more I'm getting the Florida loss out of my system. The Tigers play Georgia this week, so stay tuned to see what Joel does next week! YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE YOUR EYES, AND AT 1:47, YOU'LL CRY.
EARLIER PREDICTIONS - MISSOURI
W4 W5 W6
18 18 18

11/29/14: Vanderbilt (1-5, 0-4 SEC, NR)

  • Week 1: Lost to Temple, 37-7.
  • Week 2: Lost to Ole Miss, 41-3.
  • Week 3: Beat UMass, 34-31.
  • Week 4: Lost to South Carolina, 48-34.
  • Week 5: Lost to Kentucky, 17-7.
  • Week 6: Lost to Georgia, 44-17.
  • Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): 24. Even though this is the last game I'm writing about, and even though I've just come to the conclusion that I'll write in the next paragraph, I have to move this one because I moved UTC from 28 to 25. So I'm putting this one at 24.
EARLIER PREDICTIONS - VANDERBILT
W4 W5 W6
27 27 24

So what's the conclusion after having purged some of this out of my system through the keyboard? We're likely not as terrible as a loss to a terrible Florida team makes us want to believe. And yet, we're likely not as good as we thought we were after the Georgia game, either. Surprise! We're probably the team we thought we were when we opened the season. Congratulations.

Enjoy the ride. There's still a lot of football left, and a lot of opportunities for special moments remain, provided we don't chase them off with silly petitions or other silliness that precedes petitions and spooks the recruits to boot.

The Vols' chances of winning each of the rest of its games, on a scale from 5-30:

CURRENT PREDICTIONS
5-30 SCALE W5 W6
5
6
7
8
9 Ole Miss
10 Alabama Alabama
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18 Missouri Missouri
19 Ole Miss
20 Kentucky Kentucky
21 South Carolina South Carolina
22
23 Florida
24 Vanderbilt
25 UTC
26
27 Vanderbilt
28 UTC
29
30