Well, the 2015 regular season is officially over for the Tennessee Volunteers. And after handling business against Vanderbilt Saturday night, Butch Jones has turned the Vols into an eight-win team with a respectable bowl bid likely on its way.
One would think if Tennessee can find a way to win its bowl game, a 9-4 overall record would garner a top-25 finish – possibly somewhere between 15-20. But there is an argument to be made that the Vols deserve to be ranked right now, and considering who Tennessee has lost to, and how, it’s hard to find a good reason why the Vols shouldn’t be floating somewhere around 20th right now.
First, think about the four teams the Vols have lost to this season and how close each game was.
Oklahoma needed double overtime to beat the Volunteers and the Sooners are currently ranked third in the country with a shot to win the Big 12 championship with a victory over Oklahoma State.
Florida beat the Vols by just a point and needed a crazy fourth and long converted into a touchdown and a missed last-second field-goal by Aaron Medley to get the win. The Gators’ only loss this season came to LSU (prior to their game with Florida State), and now are headed to face Alabama in the SEC Championship game.
Speaking of which, the Tide have been one of the best teams in the country other than a close loss to Ole Miss earlier this season. Despite being ranked second in the country, Alabama struggled mightily against the Vols. And had Aaron Medley made even two of the three field goals he missed, Tennessee would have knocked off the Crimson Tide in T-Town.
Obviously Arkansas is the odd loss here, and understandably so. But since they came from behind to beat Tennessee, Arkansas has been a tough team to beat. Just ask Mississippi state, who narrowly escaped the Razorbacks with a 50-51.
Tennessee has now won five straight, and you have to think the Vols are good enough to beat a handful of teams currently in the top-25. Toledo? Temple? Washington State?
They might not necessarily be a playoff team. Heck, they aren’t even a top-10 team. But surely if those teams are ranked, all of which Tennessee would likely be favored against, the Vols deserve to be ranked as well, don’t they?
I think so.