Vols a Top 15 Team in 2015?

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    Joshua Dobbs-5Expectations will clearly be higher in 2015 with Tennessee returning a majority of a young team that finished strong in 2014 and bringing in another loaded recruiting class.

    The Vols have regularly been mentioned as a potential preseason Top 25 team, but ESPN Stats and Information has elevated Tennessee to a new level – ranking it No. 14 in its first “Football Power Index” (FPI) for 2015. Be sure to click on this link for further explanation from ESPN, but essentially, the FPI is a look at team strength through data such as returning starters, efficiency in all three phases, recruiting rankings, etc., and is not necessarily a predictor of how many wins a team will have or where they’ll finish in the College Football Playoff rankings.

    Tennessee (7-6) finished No. 34 in last year’s final FPI. As mentioned, strength of schedule isn’t factored into this ranking, and that’s precisely the thing that could make the Vols’ journey back to national contention tricky this year. A roster that will be far more experienced than last year, but still relatively young, will have to face seven of the top 40 teams in this initial FPI:

    No. 2 Alabama
    No. 9 Georgia
    No. 10 Arkansas
    No. 15 Oklahoma
    No. 24 Missouri
    No. 27 Florida
    No. 40 South Carolina

    So, as has been the case the last few years, the Vols have their work cut out for them in terms of schedule, but metrics continue to show that they’ll be more equipped to handle it in 2015.