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Recalibrating expectations for the Vols after the Bama game

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How do we feel heading into the home stretch?

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Recalibrating the Vols after the Alabama Game

Here's what the Vols' former opponents did this weekend:

  • Bowling Green moved to 6-2 (one bad loss to Tennessee and one close loss to now 7-0 Memphis) with a 48-0 win over Kent State. That's a pretty good team.
  • Oklahoma dominated Texas Tech 63-27 and moved to 6-1.
  • Florida and Georgia did not play.
  • Arkansas beat Auburn 54-46 to 4OT.

So again, the Vols' former opponents continue to make Tennessee look good. I think that by now we have a pretty good bead on this team. Like Arkansas, they can play with anyone, ranked or not, and will likely beat unranked teams. Unfortunately, losing to ranked teams has a way of getting you NR'd.

I hate to be overconfident or anything, but I honestly think that's the last of the losses we'll see this year, at least until the bowl game. Barring total collapse, of course, which is a phrase I haven't used since the last couple of minutes of the Florida game so take it for what it's worth.

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 W7 W8
5
6
7 Alabama Alabama Georgia Georgia
8 Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama
9 Georgia (W; 38-31) Alabama (L; 19-14)
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 Kentucky
24 Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Vanderbilit South Carolina South Carolina Vanderbilt Missouri
25 Bowling Green (W; 59-30) South Carolina Vanderbilt
26 South Carolina
27 South Carolina
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 North Texas North Texas
30

10/31/15: at Kentucky (4-3, 2-3 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.
  • W7: Lost to Auburn, 30-27.
  • W8: Lost to Mississippi State, 42-16.

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): At times, these guys looked good against the Bulldogs. At the end of the game on the scoreboard, not so much. I've bumped them (and everyone else North Texas, which has hit the ceiling) a spot toward confident based on the Vols themselves.

PREDICTIONS - KENTUCKY
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8
22 22 22 22 20 21 22 22 23

11/7/15: South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 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.
  • W7: Beat Vandy, 19-10.
  • W8: Bye.
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): Didn't play; moved one because of Tennessee.

PREDICTIONS - SOUTH CAROLINA
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8
19 19 23 24 24 25 26 26 27

11/14/15: North Texas (0-7, 0-4 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.
  • W7: Lost to Western Kentucky, 55-28.
  • W8: Lost to Marshall, 30-13.
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): Glass ceiling at 29.

PREDICTIONS - NORTH TEXAS
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8
28 28 28 28 28 29 29 29 29

11/21/15: at Missouri (4-4, 1-4 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.
  • W7: Lost to Georgia, 9-6.
  • W8: Lost to Vanderbilt, 10-3.
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): These guys are solid on defense, but terrible on offense. We should finally get them this year.

PREDICTIONS - MISSOURI
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8
17 15 16 18 23 22 23 23 24

11/28/15: Vanderbilt (3-4, 1-3 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
  • W7: Lost to South Carolina, 19-10.
  • W8: Beat Missouri, 10-3.
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.

PREDICTIONS - VANDERBILT
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8
24 24 24 23 22 23 24 24 25

So assuming the Vols don't go on vacation now that the hard work is done, I think the team is safely in the orange zone now, which would give them five more wins in the final five games. That gives them an 8-4 record headed into a decent bowl game and a chance at nine wins. That, plus four losses by a total of 10 points not counting the overtime loss, which I'd argue is more like a one point loss than a seven point loss. There has been heartbreak this year, but we are getting closer to the prize.

But we are also counting eggs as chickens right now and still have five games to play. Plus, the team does still need to learn to play a killer in the role as favorite. Let's hope that goes well. I think it will.