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Expectations rise again for the Vols after week three

After Week 3 action, it's looking like Georgia might be off the table for the Vols along with Alabama, but everything else is looking a little sunnier.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Recalibrating the Vols after the Western Carolina game

Since losing to the Vols but making them look bad on defense, Bowling Green has beaten Maryland 48-27 and barely lost to Memphis, 44-41. They are first in the nation in passing offense and second in total offense. After besting the Vols in double overtime, Oklahoma beat Tulsa 52-38, and QB Baker Mayfield not only continued to be slippery but started being especially productive. He set a school record (at Oklahoma, mind you) with 572 total yards, and he threw for four touchdowns and ran for another two.

Meanwhile, the Vols did what they were supposed to do against an outmatched Western Carolina team. I'm still a little concerned about the offense in SEC play, but it appears that the defense is battle-tested. I'm not adjusting expectations for Tennessee either upwards or downwards based on anything that happened to the Vols or to their past opponents this weekend.

Recalibrating the Vols' remaining opponents

What happened to Tennessee's future opponents this weekend, though, is a different story. First, the chart. Details on each are below.

7 Alabama Alabama Georgia
8 Alabama Alabama
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
18 Arkansas Missouri
19 South Carolina South Carolina
20 Florida
21 Arkansas
22 Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky
23 South Carolina Vanderbilt
24 Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Vanderbilit South Carolina
25 Bowling Green (W; 59-30)
28 North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas
29 Western Carolina Western Carolina Western Carolina (W; 55-10)

9/26/15: at Florida (3-0, 1-0 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Beat New Mexico State, 61-13.
  • W2: Beat East Carolina, 31-24.
  • W3: Beat Kentucky, 14-9.
Sat, Sept 26 vs Tennessee
Sat, Oct 3 vs Ole Miss
Sat, Oct 10 @ Missouri
Sat, Oct 17 @ LSU
Sat, Oct 31 vs Georgia*
Sat, Nov 7 vs Vanderbilt
Sat, Nov 14 @ South Carolina
Sat, Nov 21 vs FAU
Sat, Nov 28 vs FSU

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): If the score of the Florida-Kentucky game makes you feel better about the Vols' matchup with the Gators this week, I have the cure. The first paragraph from ESPN's game recap: "Every time Kentucky's pressure seemed to have Will Grier within reach, the Florida quarterback scrambled away to run for crucial yards including the Gators' first touchdown." Sounds a little too familiar, right? The Gators are a three-point favorite, and until we exorcise our scaly demons, I can't get un-wary of this game. I'm leaving them at 17. It's another Coin Flip game for Butch Jones. Will this one go his way?

Preseason W1 W2 W3
20 16 17 17

10/3/15: Arkansas (1-2, 0-0 SEC, NR)

Sat, Sept 26 vs Texas A&M*
Sat, Oct 3 @ Tennessee
Sat, Oct 10 @ Alabama
Sat, Oct 24 vs Auburn
Sat, Oct 31 vs UT Martin
Sat, Nov 7 @ Ole Miss
Sat, Nov 14 @ LSU
Sat, Nov 21 vs Miss St
Fri, Nov 27 vs Missouri

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Lost to Toledo two weeks ago. Lost to unranked Texas Tech this week. Will likely lose to Texas A&M next week. Will travel to Knoxville the following week. I'm still a little sorta kinda terrified of the Hogs' preseason reputation of power, but this is helping. I'm moving them up to 21. They're now no longer grouped with Florida and Missouri in the Coin Flip category. I'm not really saying it's a "should win" game, but it's sneaking up on "probably should win."

Preseason W1 W2 W3
15 13 18 21

10/10/15: Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC, #7)

  • W1: Beat UL Monroe, 51-14 before the game was called due to a second lightning delay.
  • W2: Beat Vanderbilt, 31-14.
  • W3: Beat South Carolina, 52-20.
Sat, Sept 26 vs Southern
Sat, Oct 3 vs Alabama
Sat, Oct 10 @ Tennessee
Sat, Oct 17 vs Missouri
Sat, Oct 31 vs Florida*
Sat, Nov 7 vs Kentucky
Sat, Nov 14 @ Auburn
Sat, Nov 21 vs Ga Southern
Sat, Nov 28 @ Georgia Tech

Chances of a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Well, shoot. They've learned how to pass. That QB who couldn't hit air last week just knocked our own Tee Martin out of the shared top spot in the record books by doing him just one measley completion better, hitting 24 of 25 pass attempts. And they still have Nick Chubb. And they've discovered Sony Michel and Keith Marshall. And Malcolm Mitchell. These guys are going to be tough. With Alabama's loss to Ole Miss, I'm giving Georgia the nod for toughest game and putting them at 7.

Preseason W1 W2 W3
12 10 11 7

10/17/15: Bye

10/24/15: at Alabama (2-1, 0-1 SEC, #12)

  • W1: Beat #20 Wisconsin, 35-17.
  • W2: Beat MTSU, 37-10.
  • W3: Lost to #15 Ole Miss, 43-37.
Sat, Sept 26 vs UL Monroe
Sat, Oct 3 @ Georgia
Sat, Oct 10 vs Arkansas
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): Ole Miss had its way with these guys for much of the game, but 'Bama being 'Bama, they nearly came back to give themselves a shot to win it with their last drive. Oddly, them losing this one somehow almost makes me feel worse about getting a win against them. It's like they've already lost their one for the year or something. On the other hand, it can be done, so . . . I'm moving them one spot up, back to 8, where I had them at the beginning of the season. Basically, I just needed to make room for Georgia.

Preseason W1 W2 W3
8 7 7 8

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

  • W1: Beat UL-Lafayette, 40-33.
  • W2: Beat South Carolina, 26-22.
  • W3: Lost to Florida, 14-9.
Sat, Sept 26 vs Missouri
Sat, Oct 3 vs E Kentucky
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): Leaving these guys right where they're at, at 22.

Preseason W1 W2 W3
22 22 22 22

11/7/15: South Carolina (1-2, 0-2 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Squawked by UNC, 17-13.
  • W2: Lost to Kentucky, 26-22.
  • W3: Lost to Georgia, 52-20.
Sat, Sept 26 vs UCF
Sat, Oct 3 @ Missouri
Sat, Oct 10 vs LSU
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): These guys look like a 98.6 degree puddle of mess. Sure, Georgia may end up doing that to a lot of people this year, but 52-20? After last week's loss to Kentucky, I moved them up to 23. This week, I'm moving them up one more to 24 and doing them the dishonor of making them switch chairs with Vanderbilt.

Preseason W1 W2 W3
19 19 23 24

11/14/15: North Texas (0-2, 0-1 C-USA, NR)

  • W1: DNP.
  • W2: Lost to SMU, 31-13.
  • W3: Lost to Rice, 38-24.
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): I'm not even going to bother looking this one up. No change. 28.

Preseason W1 W2 W3
28 28 28 28

11/21/15: at Missouri (3-0, 0-0 SEC, #25)

  • W1: Beat SE Missouri State, 34-3.
  • W2: Beat Arkansas State, 27-20.
  • W3: Beat UConn, 9-6.
Sat, Sept 26 @ Kentucky
Sat, Oct 3 vs South Carolina
Sat, Oct 10 vs Florida
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): 9-6 over UConn, really? This one was apparently so embarrassing that the ESPN game recap page has unilaterally decided to show highlights from the Duke-Northwestern game instead. Fortunately, the text is still there and clues us in to the fact that Missouri needed an interception on a fourth-down fake field goal attempt by UConn to preserve the 9-6 victory. I'm moving Missouri from 16 to 18 and swapping them with Florida. 9-6. Sheesh.

Preseason W1 W2 W3
17 15 16 18

11/28/15: Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Lost to Western Kentucky, 14-12.
  • W2: Lost to Georgia, 31-14.
  • W3: Beat Austin Peay, 47-7.
Sat, Sept 26 @ Ole Miss
Sat, Oct 3 @ Mid Tennessee
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): Well, good for you. I'm moving you to 23, but it's because South Carolina deserves the humiliation, not because you deserve to move a spot.

Preseason W1 W2 W3
24 24 24 23