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Baselining expectations for Tennessee Vols football

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Heading into the season, how do we rank our expectations of the outcomes of each game? Here's One Man on the Internet's opinion.

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, we started adjusting our expectations for upcoming games each week based on how the Vols and their future opponents did the prior week. We're going to do that again this year, so I thought we'd go ahead and get started with a preseason baseline.

We use a 5-30 point scale to rank our relative certainty of the outcome of each game. Why a 5-30 point scale? It's a long story, but basically because it's infallible, inherently imperfect, and also a joke. But it does provide a framework that actually has some utility, too. It's how we roll here at RTT. The low end - 5 - is Never Going to Happen, and the 30 side of things is Absolutely Guaranteed to Happen. We never use 5 or 30.

So here's the preseason version of this exercise, complete with bold predictions that are certain to be wildly adjusted next week after we get a real look at the teams. For now, though, here's how we're seeing things. First up, the summary chart. Details follow below.

PREDICTIONS
5-30 SCALE PRESEASON
5
6
7
8 Alabama
9
10
11
12 Georgia
13
14
15 Arkansas
16 Oklahoma
17 Missouri
18
19 South Carolina
20 Florida
21
22 Kentucky
23
24 Vanderbilt
25 Bowling Green
26
27
28 North Texas
29 Western Carolina
30

9/5/15: vs Bowling Green (0-0, 0-0 MAC, NR)

Sat, Sept 5 vs #25 Tennessee*
Sat, Sept 12 @ Maryland
Sat, Sept 19 vs Memphis
Sat, Sept 26 @ Purdue
Sat, Oct 3 @ Buffalo
Sat, Oct 10 vs UMass
Sat, Oct 17 vs Akron
Sat, Oct 24 @ Kent State
Wed, Nov 4 vs Ohio
Wed, Nov 11 @ W Michigan
Tue, Nov 17 vs Toledo
Tue, Nov 24 @ Ball State

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): On a scale of 5-30, Bowling Green's color scheme of dirt and clay is a solid 5. Their team is much better than their graphic design department, though, and they are not to be trifled with. They're well-coached and will probably be in contention for the MAC this year. But this is the SEC, and we're in Nashville, so I'm giving this one a 25.

PREDICTIONS - BOWLING GREEN
Preseason
25

9/12/15: Oklahoma (0-0, 0-0 Big 12, #19)

Sat, Sept 5 vs Akron
Sat, Sept 12 @ #25 Tennessee
Sat, Sept 19 vs Tulsa
Sat, Oct 3 vs West Virginia
Sat, Oct 10 vs Texas*
Sat, Oct 17 @ Kansas State
Sat, Oct 24 vs Texas Tech
Sat, Oct 31 @ Kansas
Sat, Nov 7 vs Iowa State
Sat, Nov 14 @ #4 Baylor
Sat, Nov 21 vs #2 TCU
Sat, Nov 28 @ Oklahoma State

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): To me, Oklahoma is running with Arkansas and Missouri as the pack of teams against which the Vols will truly measure themselves. They're a stack of quarters, and we'll be flipping coins on these guys until we play them, I'm guessing. Of the three, I have the Sooners right in the middle, sitting at 16.

PREDICTIONS - OKLAHOMA
Preseason
16

9/19/15: Western Carolina (0-0, 0-0 Southern, NR)

Sat, Sept 5 vs Mars Hill
Sat, Sept 12 @ The Citadel
Sat, Sept 19 @ #25 Tennessee
Sat, Oct 3 vs Presbyterian
Sat, Oct 10 vs Mercer
Sat, Oct 17 @ Wofford
Sat, Oct 24 vs Samford
Sat, Oct 31 @ Chattanooga
Sat, Nov 7 vs Furman
Sat, Nov 14 @ Texas A&M
Sat, Nov 21 @ VMI

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): This is as close to a sure thing as we should get this season. They're FCS and haven't been particularly good even in that division. There is no sure thing in football, though, so I'm going with 29 out of 30.

PREDICTIONS - WESTERN CAROLINA
Preseason
29

9/26/15: at Florida (0-0, 0-0 SEC, NR)

Sat, Sept 5 vs New Mexico St
Sat, Sept 12 vs ECU
Sat, Sept 19 @ Kentucky
Sat, Sept 26 vs #25 Tennessee
Sat, Oct 3 vs #17 Ole Miss
Sat, Oct 10 @ #24 Missouri
Sat, Oct 17 @ #14 LSU
Sat, Oct 31 vs #9 Georgia*
Sat, Nov 7 vs Vanderbilt
Sat, Nov 14 @ South Carolina
Sat, Nov 21 vs FAU
Sat, Nov 28 vs #10 FSU

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): I'm currently viewing Florida and South Carolina in the same group. Should we beat Florida this year? Yes. Will we suffer a catastrophic mental breakdown instead? Well, that's the question, isn't it? Going with 20, because it's the preseason, and Hope Lives Here.

PREDICTIONS - FLORIDA
Preseason
20

10/3/15: Arkansas (0-0, 0-0 SEC, #18)

Sat, Sept 5 vs UTEP
Sat, Sept 12 vs Toledo*
Sat, Sept 19 vs Texas Tech
Sat, Sept 26 vs Texas A&M*
Sat, Oct 3 @ #25 Tennessee
Sat, Oct 10 @ #3 Alabama
Sat, Oct 24 vs #6 Auburn
Sat, Oct 31 vs UT Martin
Sat, Nov 7 @ #17 Ole Miss
Sat, Nov 14 @ #14 LSU
Sat, Nov 21 vs Miss St
Fri, Nov 27 vs #24 Missouri

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): The toughest of the Coin Flips. We're at home. I'm loving our defensive line. It's early in the season before too many injuries pile up, hopefully. I like our chances, but between them, the Sooners, and Missouri, I'm thinking this will be the toughest test. Going with a 15 and a shrug.

PREDICTIONS - ARKANSAS
Preseason
15

10/10/15: Georgia (0-0, 0-0 SEC, #9)

Sat, Sept 5 vs UL Monroe
Sat, Sept 12 @ Vanderbilt
Sat, Sept 19 vs South Carolina
Sat, Sept 26 vs Southern
Sat, Oct 3 vs #3 Alabama
Sat, Oct 10 @ #25 Tennessee
Sat, Oct 17 vs #24 Missouri
Sat, Oct 31 vs Florida*
Sat, Nov 7 vs Kentucky
Sat, Nov 14 @ #6 Auburn
Sat, Nov 21 vs Ga Southern
Sat, Nov 28 @ #16 Georgia Tech

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): This should be the first real underdog game for the Vols, but it's not nearly a hopeless underdog game. On the chart below, I have them about halfway between the pack of coin flips and the Alabama game, which puts them at at 12. We have a real shot at these guys, but it will take some doing.

PREDICTIONS - GEORGIA
Preseason
12

10/17/15: Bye

10/24/15: at Alabama (0-0, 0-0 SEC, #3)

Sat, Sept 5 vs #20 Wisconsin*
Sat, Sept 12 vs Mid Tennessee
Sat, Sept 19 vs #17 Ole Miss
Sat, Sept 26 vs UL Monroe
Sat, Oct 3 @ #9 Georgia
Sat, Oct 10 vs #18 Arkansas
Sat, Oct 17 @ Texas A&M
Sat, Oct 24 vs #25 Tennessee
Sat, Nov 7 vs #14 LSU
Sat, Nov 14 @ Miss St
Sat, Nov 21 vs Charleston So
Sat, Nov 28 @ #6 Auburn

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Not completely hopeless, but you have to stretch to find something to pin your hope on. If we look good and they look vulnerable early, maybe we'll bump this up later. Right now, I have this game at an 8.

PREDICTIONS - ALABAMA
Preseason
8

10/31/15: at Kentucky (0-0, 0-0 SEC, NR)

Sat, Sept 5 vs LA-Lafayette
Sat, Sept 12 @ South Carolina
Sat, Sept 19 vs Florida
Sat, Sept 26 vs #24 Missouri
Sat, Oct 3 vs E Kentucky
Thu, Oct 15 vs #6 Auburn
Sat, Oct 24 @ Miss St
Sat, Oct 31 vs #25 Tennessee
Sat, Nov 7 @ #9 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): I'm giving the Kentucky game a 22. Perhaps I'm giving Vandy too much credit and the Wildcats not enough. We'll see.

PREDICTIONS - KENTUCKY
Preseason
22

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

Thu, Sept 3 vs UNC*
Sat, Sept 12 vs Kentucky
Sat, Sept 19 @ #9 Georgia
Sat, Sept 26 vs UCF
Sat, Oct 3 @ #24 Missouri
Sat, Oct 10 vs #14 LSU
Sat, Oct 17 vs Vanderbilt
Sat, Oct 31 @ Texas A&M
Sat, Nov 7 @ #25 Tennessee
Sat, Nov 14 vs Florida
Sat, Nov 21 vs The Citadel
Sat, Nov 28 vs #12 Clemson

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): I have the game against the Gamecocks at 19 right now, one point less certain than the Gators game. Double shrug.

PREDICTIONS - SOUTH CAROLINA
Preseason
19

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

Sat, Sept 12 @ SMU
Sat, Sept 19 vs Rice
Sat, Sept 26 @ Iowa
Sat, Oct 3 @ Southern Miss
Sat, Oct 10 vs Portland State
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): 28, one point less certain than FCS opponent Western Carolina.

PREDICTIONS - NORTH TEXAS
Preseason
28

11/21/15: at Missouri (0-0, 0-0 SEC, #24)

Sat, Sept 5 vs SE Missouri St
Sat, Sept 12 @ Arkansas State
Sat, Sept 19 vs UConn
Sat, Sept 26 @ Kentucky
Sat, Oct 3 vs South Carolina
Sat, Oct 10 vs Florida
Sat, Oct 17 @ #9 Georgia
Sat, Oct 24 @ Vanderbilt
Thu, Nov 5 vs Miss St
Sat, Nov 14 vs BYU*
Sat, Nov 21 vs #25 Tennessee
Fri, Nov 27 @ #18 Arkansas

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): The last of the coin flips, and the one I feel only slightly more certain about. Then again, I've been feeling fairly certain about these guys for three seasons and have been wrong each and every time.

PREDICTIONS - MISSOURI
Preseason
17

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

Thu, Sept 3 vs W Kentucky
Sat, Sept 12 vs #9 Georgia
Sat, Sept 19 vs Austin Peay
Sat, Sept 26 @ #17 Ole Miss
Sat, Oct 3 @ Mid Tennessee
Sat, Oct 17 @ South Carolina
Sat, Oct 24 vs #24 Missouri
Sat, Oct 31 @ Houston
Sat, Nov 7 @ Florida
Sat, Nov 14 vs Kentucky
Sat, Nov 21 vs Texas A&M
Sat, Nov 28 @ #25 Tennessee

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): I don't know. It's Vandy. What are you going to do?

PREDICTIONS - VANDERBILT
Preseason
24