Tennessee’s recent selection as No. 25 in the nation in the Coaches Poll was, on one hand, a good sign for the Vols since they hadn’t been ranked in that preseason poll since 2008, but on the other, a disappointment to some that were hoping to see the Vols ranked a bit higher.
It turns out that Vegas, in particular the Golden Nugget casino, agrees with the fans who think Tennessee should be higher – sort of. The Golden Nugget doesn’t put out a Top 25 ranking per se, but the website FootballPerspective.com has a methodology that takes the lines that it does put out and ranks what it calls the implied Top 25 based on the spreads.
Be sure to read their entire post for more information and the entire set of rankings, but it boils down to this, as author Chase Stuart explains:
“The system is pretty simple: I took the point spread for each game and turned it into a margin of victory, after assigning 3 points to the road team in each game. Do this for every game, iterate the results hundreds of times ala the Simple Rating System, we can come up with a set of power ratings.”
So where does Tennessee land in these rankings? All the way up at No. 14 – a full 11 spots higher than the Coaches Poll ranked the Vols. That’s seventh in the SEC, but second in the East, trailing only Georgia. Perhaps the only bigger surprise than that? Arkansas – which jumps all the way to No. 6 after checking in at No. 20 in the Coaches Poll.
Since that’s a pair of seven-win teams from 2014 (UT, Arkansas) in the top 14, perhaps we can deduce that the Vegas spreads and this implied rankings look more ahead than the Coaches Poll, which might put a bit more emphasis on what was done in the recent past. And while No. 14 might sound extremely high for Tennessee, remember that ESPN’s Football Power Index has UT currently at No. 13, so it isn’t foreign thought that the Vols could be one of the 15 best teams in the nation.
Again, this doesn’t prove anything other than that the expectations are on the rise for this program. It’s a bit unnerving too for teams like Tennessee and Arkansas – programs that haven’t done much in the win column in recent years and still have questions, but are also being expected to take giant steps in 2015.
The good news is that if you’re tired of all the preseason rankings and talk, it’s almost over. The Vols take the practice field on Tuesday and are just over a month from the opener against Bowling Green in Nashville.