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By the Numbers: Tennessee vs. Tennessee Tech

Where Tennessee stands after a close loss.

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

Despite a rousing atmosphere and a valiant comeback attempt, the Tennessee Volunteers fell to the Pittsburgh Panthers 41-34 last Saturday. Tennessee heads into their Week 3 FCS tune-up game against Tennessee Tech with a 1-1 overall record, and more questions about the offense than we hoped.

Last week’s loss to Pittsburgh was a close one—and one that will sting Tennessee fans for a while. The Volunteers were missing certain key players, and shot themselves in the foot enough that they ran out of bullets. Despite all this, they came fairly close to pulling it out.

What did the ratings systems think of Tennessee’s loss? We’ve compiled some of the updated numbers from around the internet. This week will also be light on analysis since the ratings systems don’t include FCS teams. With all due respect to Tennessee Tech, there’s just not much we can glean from this game for Tennessee. Well, unless they lose. Then we could glean a lot.

We’d be remiss to not point out how accurate these same systems were in predicting the Pittsburgh game. They predicted a close contest, and 2/3 had Pittsburgh as a slim favorite.

DISCLAIMER: Since it is only Week 3, many of these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Some use data from the previous season until weeks 4-5. Please do not take these as gospel—this is simply to let us track some of the changes as we go throughout the season.

FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index)

Tennessee Volunteers

Overall: 70th (Last Week: 76th)
Offense: 81st (Last Week: 90th)
Defense: 62nd (Last Week: 43rd)

The parentheses are noting the change since last week.

A good chunk of these rankings are still factoring in preseason numbers. It is surprising to see such a stark drop in the defensive efficiency number, however. If I had to hazard a guess, I would imagine their inability to stop Pittsburgh on third and fourth down hurts the rating.

Tennessee Tech

Not available since they are an FCS team.

FPI (Football Power Index)

Tennessee Volunteers

Overall: 59th (Last Week: 51st)
Offensive Efficiency: 81st (Last Week: 75th)
Defensive Efficiency: 87th (Last Week: 49th)
Special Teams Efficiency: 40th (Last Week: 98th)

Wowzers. Guess we can definitely say that FPI is more responsive to the recent games than FEI. The Volunteers took a hit everywhere except special teams, where they are now a top-40 unit. The rest is...not great. At least the overall ranking didn’t change too much?

Tennessee Tech

Not available since they are an FCS team.

Predictions

We should note that Tennessee Tech’s status as an FCS team means that FEI does not give a prediction. It is not clear if FEI will even include the result in their ratings. Therefore any changes in Week 4 would be based on teams around Tennessee moving up or down.

FPI: Tennessee, 99.5%

SP+: N/A — Projected Score (49-0 Tennessee)

I will say that in the past I would’ve included the SP+ rankings, but they are now behind an ESPN+ paywall. They also aren’t in depth as they used to be (not sure who decided to limit it) so you can’t go deeper than some of the more general numbers. It’s very disappointing, but I also won’t try and give away Bill Connelly’s content for free, since he built his system from scratch. I’ll tell you that Tennessee is still a top-50 team in his rankings. SP+ also mirrors the other systems, and is higher on the defense than the offense right now.