There’s been a narrative from some this offseason that Tennessee was “overhyped” heading into 2015, and thus any hype leading into 2016 won’t be justified because the Vols blew it in 2015.
That isn’t based in reality.
Tennessee finished No. 22 in the final AP Poll, three spots ahead of where the Vols were picked in the preseason version of the poll. It’s their highest finish in the AP Poll since the Vols were No. 15 following the 2007 season – another year that Tennessee finished off with an Outback Bowl win. The Vols also finished fourth among SEC teams in this year’s final AP poll, only behind Alabama (1), Ole Miss (10), LSU (16) and a few spots ahead of Florida (25).
Tennessee also exceeded the Las Vegas over/under of 7.5 wins during the regular season with its eight-win performance before adding a ninth in a 45-6 win in the Outback Bowl over Northwestern, which finished just one spot behind UT at No. 23 in the final AP Poll.
So while there were certainly some outliers who picked UT to win the SEC championship, to win 10+ games in the regular season or maybe even to be in the national title hunt, it’s fair to say that Tennessee was right at, if not a little bit above, expectations for the 2015 season.
It’s also fair to say that Tennessee blew a few opportunities in 2015, but it isn’t factual to say that the Vols were overhyped. The numbers simply don’t back that up.
Full Final AP Poll:
4. Ohio State
6. Michigan State
11. Notre Dame
14. Florida State
15. North Carolina
20. Oklahoma State
24. Western Kentucky