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.
|9||Georgia (W; 38-31)|
|14||Oklahoma (L; 31-24 2OT)|
|17||Missouri||Florida||Florida (L; 28-27)|
|19||South Carolina||South Carolina||Arkansas (L; 24-20)|
|24||Vanderbilt||Vanderbilt||Vanderbilit||South Carolina||South Carolina||Vanderbilt|
|25||Bowling Green (W; 59-30)||South Carolina|
|28||North Texas||North Texas||North Texas||North Texas||North Texas|
|29||Western Carolina||Western Carolina||
|North Texas||North Texas|
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|
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|
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|
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|
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|
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|