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Recalibrating expectations for the Vols in light of the North Texas game

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A win is a win, yes. But a lackluster win introduces additional anxiety going forward.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Recalibrating the Vols after the North Texas Game

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

  • Bowling Green beat Western Michigan, 41-27. They are 8-2 and pretty darn good. Our win over them early this season looks better every week.
  • Oklahoma beat Baylor by ten points. They are good.
  • Florida beat South Carolina by ten and have only one loss.
  • Arkansas beat #9 LSU rather easily.
  • Georgia beat Auburn, 20-13.
  • Alabama handled #17 Mississippi State easily.
  • South Carolina lost to a good Florida team.
  • Kentucky lost to Vanderbilt.

So most everybody made the Vols look good this weekend. And then the Vols themselves sleep-walked to a shutout of North Texas, which is good news and bad news. On one side of the ledger, Tennessee is bowl eligible with two games to spare this year and beat a bad team with their C game. On the other side of the ledger, well, the Vols are making it a habit to play down to their opponents. If they can do that and win every game, fine. But it's living dangerously, and what will happen instead at some point is that they'll misjudge an opponent or be unable to flip the switch and they'll lose to someone they shouldn't. Like maybe Missouri or Vanderbilt. So as confident as I am that the Vols A game can compete with anybody and beat most, I am losing confidence that they're going to bring their A game when it matters.

Let me be clear: I am not complaining that we merely beat North Texas 24-0. It's just that it has a negative impact on my confidence for future games.

Recalibrating the Vols' remaining opponents

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

PREDICTIONS
5-30 SCALE PS W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11
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) Vanderbilt
20 Florida Kentucky
21 Arkansas Kentucky Missouri
22 Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Vanderbilt Missouri Kentucky Vanderbilt
23 South Carolina Vanderbilt Missouri Vanderbilt Missouri Kentucky
24 Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Vanderbilit South Carolina South Carolina Vanderbilt Missouri Missouri
25 Bowling Green (W; 59-30) South Carolina Vanderbilt Missouri
26 South Carolina South Carolina (W; 27-24)
27 South Carolina Vanderbilt
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 North Texas North Texas (W; 24-0)
30

11/21/15: at Missouri (5-5, 1-5 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.
  • W9: Bye
  • W10: Lost to #20 Mississippi State, 31-13.
  • W11: Beat BYU, 20-16.
Sat, Nov 21 vs Tennessee
Fri, Nov 27 @ Arkansas

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): That's a pretty solid win for them, and with Senior Day and Pinkel headed out and the Vols looking like they're not taking things seriously, I'm much more worried about this game than at any other time of the season except the beginning when we knew nothing. 21.

PREDICTIONS - MISSOURI
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11
17 15 16 18 23 22 23 23 24 25 24 21

11/28/15: Vanderbilt (4-6, 2-4 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.
  • W9: Lost to #18 Houston, 34-0.
  • W10: Lost to Florida, 9-7.
  • W11: Beat Kentucky, 21-17.
Sat, Nov 21 vs Texas A&M
Sat, Nov 28 @ Tennessee

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Vandy's defense looks legit, and as much as it suprirses me to say it, we could have some real trouble moving the ball against them. 19. Sigh.

PREDICTIONS - VANDERBILT
Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11
24 24 24 23 22 23 24 24 25 27 22 19