Coming into the current college football season, it seemed counter-intuitive to expect similar results from Team 118 to the ones Team 117 produced. But that’s exactly what most who cover this team were predicting. A similar regular season record. Despite the fact that Team 118 was bringing way more talent to the table, it would still be another year before Vol Nation could expect to reap the fruits from the labor of Butch Jones and company.
But when you look at the two teams side-by-side through the Alabama game of their perspective seasons, they aren’t exactly twins.
Team 117 was 4-4 after last year’s game against Alabama. Team 118 is only 3-5. Team 117 was led by an offensive line that featured multiple NFL draft picks. Team 118 is limited by an offensive line that features a fifth-year walk on with a torn ACL. Team 117 earned a signature win against South Carolina. Team 118 has no such thing, arguably a signature loss, in fact, to Florida, a team that is currently in free-fall mode. Team 117 had to win two of its remaining four games to go bowling. Team 118 has to win three of its final four to earn a bowl appearance.
Given all that, it may seem counter-intuitive to believe Team 118 will do what Team 117 could not. Go bowling. But it’s not counter-intuitive at all.. There are most definitely reasons to be optimistic that this team, unlike last year’s, will find a way to close the deal. Here are five reasons why: