Each Thursday this season, as in seasons past, we'll take a look at Tennessee and its opponent for the week and the stats that each of them have compiled so far in the season to see how they stack up against each other. When you run that program before any games have been played, though, the computer freaks out, locks up, and spits profanities in binary at you.
What we can do, though, is look at last year's stats and then sort of adjust for what the teams have coming back. The first part of that is below, but SPOILER ALERT, it's all hogwash:
|Comps||Result against Comps||Guess|
|Closest Lower||Closest Higher||Closest Lower||Closest Higher|
|Tennessee rushing offense vs. Appy State rushing defense||20||223.7||27||131.5||Missouri||Florida||Missouri||Florida||220|
|Tennessee passing offense vs. Appy State passing defense||92||198.6||14||182.9||Northwestern||Florida||Northwestern||Florida||250|
|Tennessee rushing defense vs. Appy State rushing offense||45||151.6||6||271.5||Oklahoma||None||Oklahoma||None||140|
|Tennessee passing defense vs. Appy State passing offense||47||210.4||93||195.8||Georgia||Florida||Georgia||Florida||180|
|Tennessee scoring offense vs. Appy State scoring defense||29||35.2||14||19.1||Vanderbilt||Northwestern||Vanderbilt||Northwestern||45|
|Tennessee scoring defense vs. Appy State scoring offense||16||20||23||36.7||Arkansas||Bowling Green||Arkansas||Bowling Green||20|
If you removed that giant yellow "A" and all of the "Appy States" from that table, you'd think we were playing someone on the Vols' SEC schedule. I mean, they look really good and almost made me have to re-write this entire post. After all, the Mountaineers finished last season in the top 10 in rushing offense, top 15 in passing defense and scoring defense, and around the top 25 in rushing defense and scoring offense. The only thing they didn't do well is pass the ball. Sounds vaguely familiar, but I can't quite put my finger on why.
But, but, but . . . look at their schedule:
|09/05/2015||Howard||W 49 - 0|
|09/12/2015||@ Clemson||L 10 - 41|
|09/26/2015||@ Old Dominion||W 49 - 0|
|10/03/2015||Wyoming||W 31 - 13|
|10/10/2015||@ Georgia St.||W 37 - 3|
|10/17/2015||@ La.-Monroe||W 59 - 14|
|10/22/2015||Ga. Southern||W 31 - 13|
|10/31/2015||Troy||W 44 - 41 (3OT)|
|11/05/2015||Arkansas St.||L 27 - 40|
|11/14/2015||@ Idaho||W 47 - 20|
|11/28/2015||UL Lafayette||W 28 - 7|
|12/05/2015||@ South Ala.||W 34 - 27|
@ Montgomery, Ala.
|W 31 - 29|
I don't know who Howard is, but he's apparently terrible at football.
That schedule, by the way, was ranked 91st, which for those keeping score is Not Very Strong.
On the other hand, the Mountaineers were a respectable 43rd in S&P+, and they do have a bunch of their guys coming back. They return 17 of 22 starters, including linebacker John Law, who's the Sun Belt's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year (Real award? Guess so.), and quarterback Taylor Lamb, who's a three-year starter with 23 consecutive starts to his name. Oh, and look -- it's Dale Jones on the sideline.
And yet, look at that Clemson score, and allow us to repeat that they've not fared well against Power 5 conferences since that fabled day at the Big House.
So. What to do with all of that iffy and meaningless information? Add a little spit and mud, mix, throw it against the wall, and . . .
. . . I'm going to go ahead and guess that Tennessee's going to run the ball as well as they did last year, pass the ball better, stop the run as well, and stop the pass better. And I think they're going to score like they do in bowl games and hold the Mountaineers to two meaningful scores and a handful of garbage points.
Tennessee 45, Appalachian State 20.