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CBS Sports Poll: Tennessee sneaks into top 25

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Preseason poll season is almost upon us. Before too much longer we’ll be getting the official AP Top 25 and coaches poll, but for now, a top 25 from CBS Sports will do.

The publication actually went 131 deep, ranking all FBS teams before the season began. Tennessee, coming off of a strong 7-6 year one under Josh Heupel, checked in at No. 24.

Here’s the top 25.

CBS Sports Top 25

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Georgia
  4. Utah
  5. Clemson
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Michigan
  9. Texas A&M
  10. Baylor
  11. NC State
  12. USC
  13. Oklahoma State
  14. Oregon
  15. Wisconsin
  16. Arkansas
  17. Cincinnati
  18. Penn State
  19. Miami
  20. Michigan State
  21. Wake Forest
  22. Houston
  23. Kentucky
  24. Tennessee
  25. Pittsburgh

The interesting part here is who lands around the Volunteers. Obviously Kentucky is one spot ahead, but Pittsburgh — Tennessee’s week 2 opponent — is one spot behind. Digging a little bit deeper, Florida is ranked 30th while LSU is 31st. Each of those four games are massive for the Volunteers, and truly could end up going either way.

Alabama (1), Georgia (3), South Carolina (53), Missouri (67), Vanderbilt (113), Ball State (115), Akron (125) round out Tennessee’s schedule.

Dennis Dodd, also from CBS Sports, named Tennessee to his five ‘win total locks’ for the 2022 season.

The specter of massive NCAA wrongdoing under Jeremy Pruitt is now known, but that probably won’t impact this team. Josh Heupel has one of the best offenses in the SEC. That will be enough to at least reach 8-4 with QB Hendon Hooker at the helm of the offense.

24th feels about right here for Tennessee. As good as the offense is going to be, defensive questions remain, and a tough schedule looms. Early season results against Pittsburgh and Florida might just tell us who this team really is.