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Recalibrating expecations for the Tennessee Vols after the big win over the Georgia Bulldogs

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Did we just learn that there are more coin flips on the schedule than we thought?

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Recalibrating the Vols after the Georgia game

Before we get to the Vols themselves, let's take a quick look at how the Vols' former opponents did this weekend:

  • Bowling Green moved to 4-2 (one bad loss to Tennessee and one close loss to 5-0 (and Top 25!) Memphis) with a 62-38 win over UMass.
  • Oklahoma lost its first game, in a stunner to rival Texas, 24-17.
  • Florida moved to 6-0 (ugh) with a 21-3 win over Missouri.
  • Arkansas lost to #8 Alabama, 27-14, but it was tight until the fourth quarter.

And then, of course, there's the Vols, who got up off the mat once again, battled adversity once again, and this time came out on top against a ranked rival. Have they "turned the corner," "learned how to win," or "flipped the switch?" Or is everything pretty much the same as it's been since the start of the 2015 season except that the coin flip landed our way this time?

The good news is that either of those answers is good news. Whether they've improved now to get over the proverbial hump or whether they've been good enough to play with our best rivals all along, the road ahead looks more promising this morning. Who likes the sound of an off date to rest, recover, rehab, and plan while the next opponent is occupied with a road game against a Top 10 conference rival and its seventh game in seven weeks? And spoiler alert: I peeked at what would have been the statsy preview if we were playing Alabama this week instead of next, and the numbers are not the monsters they've been in the past.

All of that to say this: I feel better about the Vols' chances the rest of the way this morning, and I bet I'm not alone. The real question is whether we got lucky against Georgia and won one we shouldn't have or whether the coin flip territory on the chart below is larger than we thought and might actually occupy a range between 19 and 9. Might it extend to eight as well? Regardless, based on Saturday's big win over Georgia, I'm bumping every future opponent one spot to start.

Recalibrating the Vols' remaining opponents

So what about Tennessee's future opponents? First, the chart. Details on each are below.

PREDICTIONS
5-30 SCALE PRESEASON W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6
5
6
7 Alabama Alabama Georgia Georgia
8 Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama
9 Georgia (W; 38-31)
10 Georgia
11 Georgia
12 Georgia
13 Arkansas
14 Oklahoma (L; 31-24 2OT)
15 Arkansas Missouri
16 Oklahoma Florida Missouri
17 Missouri Florida Florida (L; 28-27)
18 Arkansas Missouri
19 South Carolina South Carolina Arkansas (L; 24-20)
20 Florida Kentucky
21 Arkansas Kentucky
22 Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Vanderbilt Missouri Kentucky
23 South Carolina Vanderbilt Missouri Vanderbilt Missouri
24 Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Vanderbilit South Carolina South Carolina Vanderbilt
25 Bowling Green (W; 59-30) South Carolina
26 South Carolina
27
28 North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas
29 Western Carolina Western Carolina

Western Carolina
(W; 55-10)

North Texas North Texas
30

10/17/15: Bye

10/24/15: at Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC, #10)

  • W1: Beat #20 Wisconsin, 35-17.
  • W2: Beat MTSU, 37-10.
  • W3: Lost to #15 Ole Miss, 43-37.
  • W4: Beat UL Monroe, 34-0.
  • W5: Beat Georgia, 38-10.
  • W6: Beat Arkansas, 27-14.
Sat, Oct 17 @ Texas A&M
Sat, Oct 24 vs Tennessee
Sat, Nov 7 vs LSU
Sat, Nov 14 @ Miss St
Sat, Nov 21 vs Charleston So
Sat, Nov 28 @ Auburn

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): I've already bumped these guys a spot based on Tennessee's own performance, but we should also account for the fact that Arkansas played them tough up until the end. Give us a week of rest and preparation and them another in a long string of tough games, and I'm tempted to go ahead and bump them another spot. But that would put them right where we had Georgia last week, and as much as my memory is failing, I still remember what they did to the Georgia team we just beat on the last play of the game. And so I will keep the Tide at eight for now. But I'm feeling something strange when I look at this game right now. I think it's a lack of fear. Which scares me. But if we can play these guys close, then anything can happen. And I think we can play them close.

PREDICTIONS - ALABAMA
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6
8 7 7 8 8 7 8

10/31/15: at Kentucky (4-1, 2-1 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Beat UL-Lafayette, 40-33.
  • W2: Beat South Carolina, 26-22.
  • W3: Lost to Florida, 14-9.
  • W4: Beat Missouri, 21-13.
  • W5: Beat Eastern Kentucky, 34-27 in overtime.
  • W6: Off.
Thu, Oct 15 vs Auburn
Sat, Oct 24 @ Miss St
Sat, Oct 31 vs Tennessee
Sat, Nov 7 @ Georgia
Sat, Nov 14 @ Vanderbilt
Sat, Nov 21 vs Charlotte
Sat, Nov 28 vs Louisville

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Bye week. 22, based on the Vols' big win last week.

PREDICTIONS - KENTUCKY
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6
22 22 22 22 20 21 22

11/7/15: South Carolina (2-4, 0-4 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Squawked by UNC, 17-13.
  • W2: Lost to Kentucky, 26-22.
  • W3: Lost to Georgia, 52-20.
  • W4: Beat UCF, 31-14.
  • W5: Lost to Missouri, 24-10.
  • W6: Lost to LSU, 45-24.
Sat, Oct 17 vs Vanderbilt
Sat, Oct 31 @ Texas A&M
Sat, Nov 7 @ Tennessee
Sat, Nov 14 vs Florida
Sat, Nov 21 vs The Citadel
Sat, Nov 28 vs Clemson

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Steve Spurrier, in 23 years as a head coach in the SEC, has never opened the season 0-4 in conference play. 26.

PREDICTIONS - SOUTH CAROLINA
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6
19 19 23 24 24 25 26

11/14/15: North Texas (0-5, 0-2 C-USA, NR)

  • W1: DNP.
  • W2: Lost to SMU, 31-13.
  • W3: Lost to Rice, 38-24.
  • W4: Lost to Iowa, 62-16.
  • W5: Lost to Southern Miss, 49-14.
  • W6: Lost to Portland State, 66-7.
Thu, Oct 15 vs W Kentucky
Sat, Oct 24 @ Marshall
Sat, Oct 31 vs UTSA
Sat, Nov 7 @ LA Tech
Sat, Nov 14 @ #25 Tennessee
Sat, Nov 21 @ Mid Tennessee
Sat, Nov 28 vs UTEP

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Yikes. This team is testing my "never use 5 or 30 rule."

PREDICTIONS - NORTH TEXAS
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6
28 28 28 28 28 29 29

11/21/15: at Missouri (4-2, 1-2 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Beat SE Missouri State, 34-3.
  • W2: Beat Arkansas State, 27-20.
  • W3: Beat UConn, 9-6.
  • W4: Lost to Kentucky, 21-13.
  • W5: Beat South Carolina, 24-10.
  • W6: Lost to Florida, 21-3.
Sat, Oct 17 @ Georgia
Sat, Oct 24 @ Vanderbilt
Thu, Nov 5 vs Miss St
Sat, Nov 14 vs BYU*
Sat, Nov 21 vs Tennessee
Fri, Nov 27 @ Arkansas

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Still not sure whether this past weekend says more about Missouri or Florida, so I'm just sticking with the status quo. 23.

PREDICTIONS - MISSOURI
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6
17 15 16 18 23 22 23

11/28/15: Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-2 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Lost to Western Kentucky, 14-12.
  • W2: Lost to Georgia, 31-14.
  • W3: Beat Austin Peay, 47-7.
  • W4: Lost to #3 Ole Miss, 27-16.
  • W5: Beat MTSU, 17-13.
  • W6: Off
Sat, Oct 17 @ South Carolina
Sat, Oct 24 vs Missouri
Sat, Oct 31 @ Houston
Sat, Nov 7 @ Florida
Sat, Nov 14 vs Kentucky
Sat, Nov 21 vs Texas A&M
Sat, Nov 28 @ Tennessee

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Off, so just the one point bump to 24.

PREDICTIONS - VANDERBILT
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6
24 24 24 23 22 23 24