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Recalibrating expectations for the Vols after Week 10

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The past weekend’s results breathe new life into the expectations for the season. Oh, and the Vols could actually have the pelts of three conference champions heading into bowl season.

NCAA Football: Tennessee Tech at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

After a faith-shaking performance against the South Carolina Gamecocks two weeks ago, the Tennessee Volunteers did even more than expected against FCS foe Tennessee Tech. It's not quite enough to get all of the warm fuzzies back, but it goes a long way in settling our collective stomachs and expectations the rest of the way.

Explanations are below, but first here's the updated chart for this week:

PREDICTIONS
5-30 SCALE Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11
5
6 Alabama Alabama Alabama
7
8 Alabama
9 Alabama
10 Georgia
11 Alabama
12 Georgia
13 Texas A&M Texas A&M
14 Georgia Florida (W; 38-28) Texas A&M
15 Texas A&M Texas A&M Georgia Texas A&M (L; 45-38 2OT) Alabama (L; 49-10) Kentucky
16
17 Florida Georgia (W; 34-31) Vanderbilt
18 Florida
19 Missouri Missouri Missouri Missouri
20 South Carolina Florida
21 Virginia Tech Virginia Tech (W; 45-24) South Carolina Kentucky
22 Kentucky Missouri Kentucky Vanderbilt
23 South Carolina Missouri Vanderbilt Kentucky Vanderbilt Missouri Vanderbilt
24 Kentucky Vanderbilt South Carolina South Carolina Kentucky Kentucky
25 Appalachian State (W; 20-13 (OT)) Missouri Vanderbilt Vanderbilt South Carolina Vanderbilt South Carolina (L; 24-21) Missouri
26 Vanderbilt Kentucky Kentucky South Carolina
27 Missouri Tennessee Tech (W; 55-0)
28 Ohio Ohio Ohio (W; 28-19)
29 Tennessee Tech Tennessee Tech Tennessee Tech Tennessee Tech Tennessee Tech Tennessee Tech Tennessee Tech Tennessee Tech
30

Recalibrating the Vols after Tennessee Tech

Yeah, it was Tennessee Tech, but the Vols took care of business and looked good doing so. It felt last week like the team was at a crossroads, one hauntingly inviting direction heading off into the forest of despair. But the guys shrugged it off and chose the freeway to Atlanta instead. There are still perils along that path, of course, but the only unusually large rodents you generally see are split open on the highway and not jumping you from behind.

So once again, it feels like the Vols are somewhat comfortable favorites the rest of the way and that the Gators in the fast car up ahead are destined for an extended stay in a Baton Rouge body shop. All that's not to say that it's definitely going to happen, but that it feels much more likely to happen this week than it did last.

Recalibrating the Vols based on new results from past opponents

Yes, the Vols still own the nation's toughest schedule, thanks to its opponents generally making them look good. Apart from the inevitable eat-your-own losses between SEC East teams (and another we needed from Florida), only A&M slipped up this week.

Appalachian State (7-2, 5-0 Sun Belt, NR)

  • W1: Lost to Tennessee in OT, 20-13.
  • W2: Beat Old Dominion, 31-7.
  • W3: Lost to #25 Miami, 45-10.
  • W4: Beat Akron, 45-38.
  • W5: Beat Georgia State, 17-3.
  • W6: Bye.
  • W7: Beat LA-Lafayette 24-0.
  • W8: Beat Idaho, 37-19.
  • W9: Beat Georgia Southern, 34-10.
  • W10: Beat Texas State, 35-10.

Virginia Tech (7-2, 5-1 ACC, #18)

Ohio (7-3, 5-1 MAC, NR)

  • W1: Lost in 3OT to Texas State, 56-54.
  • W2: Beat Kansas, 37-21.
  • W3: Lost to Tennessee, 28-19.
  • W4: Beat Gardner-Webb, 37-21.
  • W5: Ohio (not Miami) beat Miami (Ohio), 17-7. :-)
  • W6: Beat Bowling Green, 30-24.
  • W7: Lost to E Michigan, 27-20.
  • W8: Beat Kent State, 14-10.
  • W9: Beat Toledo, 31-26.
  • W10: Beat Buffalo, 34-10.

Florida (6-2, 4-2 SEC, #22)

  • W1: Beat UMass, 24-7.
  • W2: Trounced Kentucky, 45-7.
  • W3: Beat North Texas, 32-0.
  • W4: Lost to Tennessee, 38-28.
  • W5: Beat Vanderbilt, 13-6.
  • W6: Postponed their game with LSU.
  • W7: Beat Missouri, 40-14.
  • W8: Bye.
  • W9: Beat Georgia, 24-10.
  • W10: Lost to Arkansas, 31-10.

10/1/16: Georgia (5-4, 3-4 SEC)

  • W1: Beat North Carolina, 33-24.
  • W2: Barely beat Nicholls, 26-24.
  • W3: Came back late to squeak out a win against Missouri, 28-27.
  • W4: Lost to Ole Miss 45-14.
  • W5: Lost to Tennessee, 34-31.
  • W6: Beat South Carolina, 28-14.
  • W7: Lost to Vanderbilt, 17-16.
  • W8: Bye.
  • W9: Lost to Florida, 24-10.
  • W10: Beat Kentucky, 27-24.

10/8/16: Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2 SEC, #10)

  • W1: Beat #16 UCLA in OT, 31-24.
  • W2: Beat Prairie View A&M, 67-0.
  • W3: Beat Auburn, 29-16.
  • W4: Beat Arkansas, 45-24.
  • W5: Beat South Carolina, 24-13.
  • W6: Beat Tennessee, 45-38 in double overtime.
  • W7: Bye.
  • W8: Lost to Alabama, 33-14.
  • W9: Beat New Mexico State, 52-10.
  • W10: Lost to Mississippi State, 35-28.

10/15/16: Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC, #1)

  • W1: Clobbered #20 USC, 52-6.
  • W2: Beat Western Kentucky, 38-10.
  • W3: Beat #19 Ole Miss, 48-43.
  • W4: Beat Kent State, 48-0.
  • W5: Beat Kentucky, 34-6.
  • W6: Beat #16 Arkansas, 49-30.
  • W7: Clobbered #9 Tennessee, 49-10.
  • W8: Beat #6 Texas A&M, 33-14.
  • W9: Bye
  • W10: Beat LSU, 10-0.

10/29/16: South Carolina (5-4, 3-4 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Beat Vanderbilt, 13-10.
  • W2: Lost to Mississippi State, 27-14.
  • W3: Survived East Carolina, 20-15.
  • W4: Lost to Kentucky, 17-10.
  • W5: Lost to Texas A&M, 24-13.
  • W6: Lost to Georgia, 28-14.
  • W7: Bye.
  • W8: Beat UMass, 34-28.
  • W9: Beat Tennessee, 24-21.
  • W10: Beat Missouri, 31-21.

11/5/16: Tennessee Tech (3-6, 3-3 OVC, NR)

  • W1: Lost to Wofford, 21-7.
  • W2: Beat Austin Peay, 41-7.
  • W3: Lost to Mercer, 34-27.
  • W4: Lost to UT Martin, 44-23.
  • W5: Beat Eastern Kentucky, 33-30 in OT.
  • W6: Lost to Jacksonville State, 40-21.
  • W7: Lost to E Illinois, 30-24.
  • W8: Beat SE Missouri St., 21-20.
  • W9: Bye.
  • W10: Lost to Tennessee, 55-0.
What are the odds of Tennessee entering the bowl season with pelts over the Sun Belt Champion (App State), the MAC Champion (Ohio), and the ACC Champion (Virginia Tech, who is likely to give either Clemson or Louisville a game in the ACC Championship)?

Recalibrating the Vols' future opponents

11/12/16: Kentucky (5-4, 4-3 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Collapsed and lost to Southern Miss, 44-35.
  • W2: Lost to Florida, 45-7.
  • W3: Beat New Mexico State, 62-42.
  • W4: Beat South Carolina, 17-10.
  • W5: Lost to Alabama, 34-6.
  • W6: Beat Vanderbilt, 20-13.
  • W7: Bye.
  • W8: Beat Mississippi State, 40-38.
  • W9: Beat Missouri, 35-21.
  • W10: Lost to Georgia, 27-24.

Expectations for a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): Watch that video, folks. Kentucky looks legit this year, and the Vols will have to come out swinging. I'm bumping this game back down from last week, but it's still up from two weeks ago. 21.

PREDICTIONS - KENTUCKY
W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W9 W10 W11
24 26 27 22 23 24 24 22 15 21

11/19/16: Missouri (2-7, 0-5 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Lost to West Virginia, 26-11.
  • W2: Beat Eastern Michigan, 61-21.
  • W3: Lost to Georgia, 28-27.
  • W4: Beat Delaware State, 79-0.
  • W5: Lost to LSU, 42-7.
  • W6: Bye.
  • W7: Lost to #18 Florida, 40-14.
  • W8: Lost to MTSU, 51-45.
  • W9: Lost to Kentucky, 35-21.
  • W10: Lost to South Carolina, 31-21.

Expectations for a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): File this as an important life lesson to learn vicariously through the mistakes of others: When you promote your defensive coordinator to head coach, you've not just gained a head coach, you've lost your defensive coordinator. 25.

PREDICTIONS - MISSOURI
W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W9 W10 W11
19 25 23 19 19 22 23 27 19 25

11/26/16: Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4 SEC, NR)

  • W1: Lost to South Carolina, 13-10.
  • W2: Beat MTSU, 47-24.
  • W3: Lost to Georgia Tech, 38-7.
  • W4: Beat Western Kentucky, 31-30 in overtime.
  • W5: Lost to Florida, 13-6.
  • W6: Lost to Kentucky, 20-13.
  • W7: Beat Georgia, 17-16.
  • W8: Beat Tennessee State, 35-17.
  • W9: Bye.
  • W10: Lost to #9 Auburn, 23-16.

Expectations for a Vols win (on a scale from 5-30): This is a loss for Vanderbilt, but it's enough against a team that could win the SEC West to give you pause. If all goes well through November 19, expect some pressure for the Vols to close the deal against the Commodores. 22.

PREDICTIONS - VANDERBILT
W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W9 W10 W11
26 24 25 23 25 23 25 23 17 22