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2014: A Football Odyssey

With the release of the AP preseason top 25, we can see how difficult a group of sportswriters think the schedule is for this year's Vols team.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

If you're anything like me, you've spent most of the summer consuming every tidbit of training and recruiting information about Butch Jones' second Tennessee football team. From the excitement of midnight practices to the commitment of a five star legacy at a position of need, Jones has done a fantastic job of putting out positive articles about the Vols while avoiding the pitfalls of conference rivals Georgia (arrests and suspensions) and Vanderbilt (an ugly departure of the entire coaching staff). With the return of prodigal son Pig Howard, the worst offseason story for the football team involved a county-mountie raid on a keg party hosted by A.J. Johnson and Dontavis Sapp. Oh, the horror!

Now however, we have a breath of sober reflection, courtesy of the nation's most ill-informed and crotchety demographic: working sportswriters. Yes, it's time for Peter King to pick up a copy of Phil Steele's "jam-packed" college football preview and once again regale us with tales of Notre Dame's return to glory and Alabama's Saban-led process, all coming with the age and confirmation bias that can only mean Gannett publishing is involved.

So how sayeth the pressbox sages?

Well, the good news is that only half of Tennessee's twelve opponents are ranked in the AP poll... but the bad news is that three of the six are ranked in the top ten, with preseason #2 Alabama, #4 Oklahoma, and #6 South Carolina all on tap (only Alabama comes to Knoxville). Taking into account teams receiving votes, but not enough to be ranked, all but three teams on the 2014 schedule are ranked: Arkansas State, Chattanooga, and, yep, Kentucky.

Butch Jones has parleyed a great recruiting class into a stellar off-season, but now he has his work cut out for him.

Tennessee's 2014 Opponents
Date Team Location Preseason AP Ranking Preseason Coaches' Ranking
8/31/2014 Utah State Knoxville, TN Other poll votes: (1) None
9/06/2014 Arkansas State Knoxville, TN None None
9/13/2014 Oklahoma Norman, OK #4 #3
9/27/2014 Georgia Athens, GA #12 #12
10/04/2014 Florida Knoxville, TN Other poll votes: (87) Other poll votes: (122)
10/11/2014 Chattanooga Knoxville, TN None None
10/18.2014 Ole Miss Oxford, MS #18 #19
10/25/2014 Alabama Knoxville, TN #2 #2
11/01/2014 South Carolina Columbia, SC #6 #6
11/15/2014 Kentucky Knoxville, TN None None
11/22/2014 Missouri Knoxville, TN #24 Other poll votes: (126)
11/29/2014 Vanderbilt Nashville, TN Other poll votes: (2) None