When ESPN’s Football Power Index rankings first came out back in February, the Vols barely made it inside the top 20. Now ESPN has updated their rankings, and the Vols have moved up in them.
According to the updated FPI rankings, the Vols have moved up one spot to No. 19 on the list. The Vols were previously ranked behind Notre Dame, but the Irish fell a handful of spots and now take over the No. 20 ranking from the Vols.
The FPI is “a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season,” according to ESPN’s site. “FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule.”
Essentially, the FPI is supposed to be an accurate evaluation of the true talent of a team outside of coaching and other factors. The FPI rankings use the FPI itself, the team’s results to date, and the remaining strength of schedule during the season.
The FPI gives the Vols a 4.1 percent chance of winning the SEC and ranks the Vols’ strength of schedule at No. 30 in the country. The Vols are also projected to have a win/loss record of 8-4.2, which rounds to another 8-4 season in 2017. They are also given zero chance of having an undefeated season.
Interestingly, Alabama comes in at No. 2 in the FPI. Ohio State claims the top spot. The FPI gives the Buckeyes a 70.9 percent chance of winning the Big 10 and a 35 percent chance of going undefeated. Alabama is given a 47.6 percent chance of winning the SEC and just a 10 percent chance of winning out.
The SEC teams ahead of the Vols are Alabama (2nd), Auburn (5th), LSU (10th), Georgia (13th), and Florida (14th). Texas A&M comes in at No. 27, and South Carolina is ranked No. 32 in the FPI. Mississippi State (33rd), Kentucky (35th), Ole Miss (37th), Arkansas (38th), Missouri (39th), and Vanderbilt (46th) all made it inside the top 50.
The Vols were inside the top five of last year’s FPI and remained there or inside the top 10 for most of the season. This time, Tennessee isn’t thought of as highly in the FPI rankings, but they’ve still managed to crack the top 20 teams in the country.