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How much does the Vols' second collapse change our expectations for the rest of the season?

A second gut punch in three games reduces the Vols' margin for error, and yet the prospects for the rest of the season don't really change that much.

He'll be back next week. Will you?
He'll be back next week. Will you?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Recalibrating the Vols after the Florida game

This weekend, Bowling Green improved to 2-2 with a win over Purdue and has now beaten two power conference teams in three weeks. Oklahoma and Western Carolina were both off. Not that we're going to learn much from watching Western Carolina the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, Tennessee had rival Florida on the ropes, pinned to the mat, dead to rights . . . and let another almost certain victory get away. What does that mean about the Vols going forward? That they can win such games if only they don't lose them in the final minutes. They have the talent to play well for most of the game, but need to adjust the mindset. When the coin flip keeps coming up skull-and-crossbones, you should play in a way that makes the flipping coin flip unnecessary. I still have faith that this team can achieve its goals for the season, but they'd be well-advised to remove luck from the equation and to ignore all analytics that rely on odds for the time being. The odds are never in our favor.

Bottom line, I'm declaring coin flips poisonous until we get immunized. Fortunately, it's looking like we're mostly done with 50-50 games, and that we should have the advantage for much of the rest of the way. And oddly, I'd be more afraid of another coin flip than I am of true underdog games against Georgia and Alabama. So there's that.

Recalibrating the Vols' remaining opponents

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

7 Alabama Alabama Georgia Georgia
8 Alabama 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 (L; 28-27)
18 Arkansas Missouri
19 South Carolina South Carolina Arkansas
20 Florida Kentucky
21 Arkansas
22 Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Vanderbilt
23 South Carolina Vanderbilt Missouri
24 Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Vanderbilit South Carolina South Carolina
25 Bowling Green (W; 59-30)
28 North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas
29 Western Carolina Western Carolina Western Carolina (W; 55-10)

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

  • W1: Beat UTEP, 48-13.
  • W2: Lost to . . . Holy Toledo, 16-12.
  • W3: Lost to Texas Tech, 35-24.
  • W4: Gave up a 4th-quarter lead and lost in overtime to #14 Texas A&M, 28-21.
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): First, note that these guys gave up a lead late in the fourth and went to overtime and lost. Then acknowledge what we've done in the fourth quarter two of the last three games. Then forget both of those things. Then remember Arkansas' losses to Toledo and Texas Tech. Then note that Texas Tech almost got TCU this week. Then, if you watched the Razorbacks game, remember the horror of that huge offensive line and that truck of a back running through the A&M defense and eating yards and time like Joey Chestnut eats hot dogs. Based on all of that, I'm moving these guys up the chart two spots to 19, dangerously close to Coin Flip Land. Fortunately, it's only the suburbs, and at this point, I'm thinking we get this one. Gulp.

Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4
15 13 18 21 19

10/10/15: Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC, #8)

  • 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.
  • W4: Beat Southern, 48-6.
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): The game against Southern doesn't tell you much about the Bulldogs football team, but this does say something about Mark Richt. I'm leaving the Dogs at 7.

Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4
12 10 11 7 7

10/17/15: Bye

10/24/15: at Alabama (3-1, 0-1 SEC, #13)

  • 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.
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): Not much to see here. Leaving the Tide at 8.

Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4
8 7 7 8 8

10/31/15: at Kentucky (3-1, 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.
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): I'm moving the Wildcats up the chart two spots to 20, although I'm not sure yet whether they're that good or Missouri's that bad. It's probably a bit of both.

Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4
22 22 22 22 20

11/7/15: South Carolina (2-2, 0-2 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.
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): UCF is not very good. I'm leaving the Gamecocks where they are, at 24.

Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4
19 19 23 24 24

11/14/15: North Texas (0-3, 0-1 C-USA, NR)

  • W1: DNP.
  • W2: Lost to SMU, 31-13.
  • W3: Lost to Rice, 38-24.
  • W4: Lost to Iowa, 62-16.
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): Huge loss to the team we clobbered in the TaxSlayer Bowl. No change. 28.

Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4
28 28 28 28 28

11/21/15: at Missouri (3-1, 0-1 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.
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): That question I posed up there about whether Kentucky was good or Missouri was bad? Looking at the Tigers' resume, it's looking like a lean toward the latter. I'm dropping Missouri all the way down to 23, and they're joining the Gamecocks in the Circle of the Dishonor of Being Below Vanderbilt.

Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4
17 15 16 18 23

11/28/15: Vanderbilt (1-3, 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.
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): Huh. What do we do with this? Losing by only 11 to the team that just beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa? Chalk it up as a fluke, is what we do. But we're giving them a one-spot bump to 22, too, to make room for Missouri.

Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4
24 24 24 23 22