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Tony Barnhart projects Tennessee’s 2018 SEC record

Barnhart is bullish on the Vols.

NCAA Football: Tennessee Volunteers Practice Calvin Mattheis-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas has placed the Tennessee Volunteers’ win total at 6.5. Tony Barnhart is taking the over on that wager. In his SEC East projections released today, Barnhart projected four conference wins for the Vols, just one year removed from an 0-8 season.

Here’s what Barnhart predicted for Tennessee.

Who they will beat: Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, at Vanderbilt

Who they will lose to : at Georgia, at Auburn, Alabama, at South Carolina.

Analysis: It will be a tough first-year for new Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt. I think the Vols will beat Florida in Knoxville but then comes a four-game stretch that includes road trips to Georgia, Auburn, and South Carolina plus a home game with Alabama. The good news is that the November schedule of Charlotte, Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt gives the Volunteers a chance to make a bowl.

If Tennessee gets four conference wins, that would likely mean a 7-5 season for Jeremy Pruitt in his first year. Charlotte, UTEP and ETSU would be the other three wins.

While Barnhart says a tough year is on the horizon, I’d think just about every Tennessee fan would take that outcome and run. Getting to a bowl is the ultimate goal for this team, anything else would gravy, considering the state of the roster.

Getting a signature win over Florida to get the ball rolling in SEC play would be a huge step towards legitimacy for the Pruitt-era, which is already off to a great start on the recruiting trail. That momentum may carry over the summer months, but Tennessee is going to have to show something on the field to sustain it through signing day.

I think Barnhart is a little too confident here, but seven wins certainly isn’t out of the question.